Covid Vaccines: Patent Relief - An International Show Off? EN/ES

Written by Abril Trankels

Earlier this month, the Biden administration's support for patent relief for Covid-19 vaccines was publicly expressed.

Such a move would substantially undermine one of the major innovations in law and incentives that the private sector has cultivated over the last century.


Intellectual property protection functions as a catalyst for progress and innovation in the market, ensuring monopolization and certification to each holder, in relation to its production, whether tangible or not.

However, what part of the international community is demanding today is to materialize the supremacy of the right to health over the rights and guarantees of the private sector. The needs of the third world, which in several countries has not yet been able to cover even 3% of its population with the second dose, calls for action, whether by commitment or solidarity, from the world powers. In addition, there is pressure from international organizations.


In view of this, the U.S.-backed plan proposes to free intellectual property protections so that the neediest countries have access to vaccines. Urgency is one of the most repeated arguments accompanying this position. As the WHO stated, "we are not all safe until we are all safe". In other words, it will do little good for developed countries to vaccinate their populations if the rest of the world (which is not a minority) is still under viral threat. Time is a limited resource, not only because of the lives still at stake, but also because of the possible mutations of the virus as time goes by.


However, assuming that, on a moral and ideal level, such an intention is valid, it does not mean that it is a pragmatically realistic projection. It is not necessary to dig deeply to find arguments that strongly question this postulate.