Patents versus the People

Prabhat Patnaik

IDEAs | May 17, 2021

On October 2, 2020, even before any vaccines against Covid-19 had been approved, India and South Africa had proposed to the WTO that a temporary patent waiver should be granted on all such innovations. In the following months, 100 countries had supported this demand. And on May 5, the US, usually the most ardent defender of the patent system, agreed to a temporary patent waiver on anti-Covid vaccines, committing itself to “text-based negotiations at the WTO”.

The basic argument for such a move arises from the urgent need at present to expand vaccine production. A patent works by creating artificial scarcity so that prices are kept high for a longer period and the innovating firm can make profits that are large enough supposedly to recoup the investment made in developing the patented product, but the scarcity of vaccines is precisely what the world can ill-afford at present. When thousands are dying around the world, saving lives has priority over firms’ profits, for which patents on vaccines must be removed.Read More »


Vaccine Patents = Mass Murder

Paul Demarty

Climate and Capitalism | May 07, 2021

As a new wave of Covid-19 rips through many countries, notably India, Argentina and Brazil, it is disconcerting to look on from the vantage point of a country where things are — for now — well under control, with over half the population at least partly vaccinated.

With scientific opinion — and plain common sense — united in the certainty that Britain and the few other rich countries which have had a successful vaccination program still cannot protect themselves so long as some of the most populous countries on earth are effectively giant Petri dishes for the emergence of new variants of the virus, scrutiny must rightly fall on Britain’s failure to aid the global effort adequately. And, while much of the discussion focuses on how many spare vaccine shots are ‘donated,’ there is a far more serious moral failure on display in the present situation.Read More »


Ahead of crucial WTO meet, rights groups urge patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines

Peoples Dispatch | April 22, 2021

Demand for patent waiver WTO meet
(Photo: NICEF/Jake Verzosa)

Several human rights groups, including Doctors Without Border (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF), ­­­­­­­­made an urgent appeal to the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the eve of its scheduled virtual meeting on Thursday, April 22, to waive off the patent rights on COVID-19 vaccine production.

More than 100 countries, led by India and South Africa, have demanded the temporary waiver of some clauses of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on the production of vaccines and other related medical equipment in order to increase their production and facilitate their wider and more equitable reach.Read More »


Vaccines: Patents or life!

European Secretariat of the International Peoples’ Assembly | March 11, 2021

Organizations have denounced that even amid a devastating pandemic, pharmaceutical companies and other entities have put profits over people.

One year after March 11, 2020, the day on which the World Health Organization WHO defined the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, we are still grappling with new waves, heavy restrictions, and a number of deaths reaching over 550,000 only in Europe.

The substantial public resources that have financed the research of private pharmaceutical companies have seemingly “worked”. As of today, there are more vaccines that have completed the control phases and a large part of the scientific community is convinced that the vaccines are the most suitable tool for overcoming the pandemic, along with, as we always highlight, the necessary strengthening of the public health system and the community-based medicine.Read More »