A discussion of Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as they relate to the new Covid-19 vaccines and their patents. Written by members of PHM Canada for publication in The Conversation. Read the full article here.

COVID-19 drug and vaccine patents are putting profit before people

By: Ronald Labonté and Mira Johri 

Since the birth of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, most member states have had to abide by the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which protects patents and copyrights including those applicable to new diagnostics, vaccines, medicines and medical supplies.

In early October, India and South Africa requested that the WTO TRIPS Council consider a temporary waiver suspending TRIPS obligations on all medical products needed to control the COVID-19 pandemic. On Oct. 15, 40 WTO member states discussed the proposal.

Most developing countries supported it, though some wanted more time to discuss the implications with their home governments. Most developed countries, including Canada, opposed the proposal. A final decision is on hold but is likely to be made within a matter of weeks. What is at stake for Canadians, and for the global community?

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