Suspending Intellectual Property during Covid-19 Times – Civil Service Essay 5

A plethora of vaccines are now available for use. The vaccines came years in advance, triggering great hope for mankind. The scientific community, who spearheaded the astonishingly fast race, was driven by human inventiveness that peaked due to global pressure. Apart from this, private capital from myriad sources was poured in to invent a vaccine in quick time.

Such an astounding success, however, will be considered futile, if some parts of the human race, don’t get the benefits equitably because of their nationality, colour or wealth. There is no doubt that socio-economic parameters of nations vary greatly. The richer a notion, the better is its inoculation success. This is why a handful of countries in the western world are reasonably near to full inoculation of their population where as in poor countries of Africa and elsewhere, inoculation has made a faltering start. In areas uncovered by inoculation, new variants of the virus will lurk for years posing danger of fresh bouts of the pandemic. This logic underscores the need for universal inoculation to be completed in minimal time. But, there are far too many problems along the way. Present manufacturers will fight hard to restrict te availability of their products to their buyers only.

The solution, therefore, lies in ‘People’s Vaccine that would be affordable, accessible, and storable, Adopting such a vaccine universally will eliminate the tendencies towards hoarding, profiteering, blackmailing and other evils like extortion. The world can then see the end of ‘vaccine discrimination’ which otherwise could bring many evils to mankind. Fr this to happen, the main difficulty will lie in nullifying the intellectual property right claims that law courts would find hard to dismiss. But, if this hurdle is crossed, proliferation of manufacturing centers around multiple geographies will be possible. Distribution of vaccine will then encounter much less logistical difficulties.

So, overcoming the challenges of enforcement of patents rights by a handful of large vaccine makers like Moderna, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Johnson and Johnson is going to be a real impediment to universal adoption of the People’s Vaccine’. The present manufacturers have a head-start in the business, and are sure to increase their prices after some time.

An argument often advanced by the vaccine makers is that safeguarding their intellectual rights will help them to ramp up investment and production. This claim may not always hold. Astra Zeneca is already feeling the heat for not being able to produce contracted quantities of the vaccine. Similar problems from other makers can’t be ruled out.

It is worth mentioning here that the U.S. invested nearly 12billion dollars in its vaccine development effort. Elsewhere, the Astra-Zeneca programma was underwritten by public money to the extent of 90%, Given these facts, the claim of the vaccine makers for patent rights is immoral as they are illegal.

The collective conscience of the world must weigh on to make vaccine making an unfettered business activity. Only then the people can draw the full benefit of the quick breakthroughs in vaccine science.

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