More than six months ago, India and South Africa floated the idea of Covid-19 vaccine waivers. Finally, on 6th May, 2021 the Biden administration announced their support for the same. This decision was welcomed by countries like France, Australia as well as Russia. However, certain countries are still on the fence about it.
This move is especially being opposed by the Pharma giants. Why? Because patent protection lasts for 20 years and they price the medicines and vaccines as per their convenience. This helps them recover the expenses that went into the research and earn profit as well. So, the pharma companies opposing it is natural. However, they do raise a valid point, even if the patents are waived, do all the countries have the resources to produce them?
Now, manufacturing a vaccine is a tedious task. Even if the patents are waved, the know-how is shared, not all countries have the resources to manufacture it. Several things need to be considered such as availability of raw materials, specialised equipment, availability of highly skilled workers, stringent quality controls, and factory capacity.
The pandemic has led to a shortage of vials, stoppers, and other components, which will go on for quite some time. Certain under-developed as well as developing countries like Brazil, South Africa, don’t have the capacity to produce these vaccines.
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations said “A waiver is the simple but the wrong answer to what is a complex problem”. What are your thoughts on it?