Pharmaceutical companies have come to the world’s rescue with Covid-19 vaccines, but these days no good deed by business goes unpunished. The Biden Administration is now under pressure to support a political campaign to break vaccine patents.
India and South Africa last fall petitioned the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property protections on Covid vaccines and treatments, which they say is necessary to expand global access. Fifty-five other countries plus an army of nonprofiits and labor unions have joined the attempted heist.
“Multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies continue to prioritize profits by protecting their monopolies,” Bernie Sanders says. Adds Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro: “We need to make the public policy choices both in the U.S. and at the WTO that puts patients first.”
Patent-breakers are presenting a false choice between protecting intellectual property and public health. Breaking patents won’t accelerate vaccine production or distribution to poor countries. Pharmaceutical companies are ramping up manufacturing as fast as they can, including in low-income countries.
Merck is reconfiguring factories to produce Johnson & Johnson ’s vaccine, while Novartis and Sanofi are making Pfizer -BioNTech’s mRNA shots. Novavax has tapped Baxter BioPharma Solutions and Endo International . The Serum Institute of India plans to make a billion doses of Novavax this year. J&J has enlisted Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa and Biological E in India.
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