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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Waiving the vaccine patent may come down to giving pharmaceutical companies incentives

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Rachel Silverman:

Well, I certainly agree that we are in a crisis and we need to speed this entire process up. There is no time to delay whatsoever.

And that’s exactly my concern, is that what’s the most practical way forward? If we look at the TRIPS waiver, I think it will probably go ahead. It will be fine. But it will take quite a bit of time to negotiate. There are still complicated issues around technology transfer, giving companies in low- and middle-income companies the recipes, the proprietary knowledge, the cell lines needed to do this, that will not come automatically, even with a patent waiver.

But what we can do in the short and the medium term is to put more money into the system to pull through more manufacturing capacity, to create the incentives that say, build it, and we will pay for it, and we will vaccinate the world.

I think it’s a mistake to put this onus of all of this on the pharmaceutical companies. Yes, they receive taxpayer money. Yes, taxpayers and the public, we need these vaccines, and we need them to be equitably shared, and we have a stake in doing so.

But they are companies. They are private companies. We are the global community. We are the United States government. And we need to take the leadership role in making this happen, not just expecting pharma to do it on our behalf, without our intervention.

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