Of Viruses and Licenses: Learning from COVID-19 Patent Debates
16 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 7, 2022
From the White House to the World Trade Organization (WTO), heated debates have flared up around the compulsory licensing of COVID-19 vaccine technologies, producing a flurry of op-eds in all of the major US newspapers. Should patent protections, these op-eds ask, be temporarily relaxed to enable developing countries to produce and distribute cheaper shots to ensure timely global immunization? Can compulsory licenses actually achieve that goal, or would the efforts of developing countries be thwarted by other constraints, like limited production capacity, equipment, and skills? Conversely, would the granting of such licenses stymie medical innovation?
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