Press Release

The “Limited” TRIPS Waiver, COVID-19 Vaccines, and Intellectual Property

The World Trade Organization recently waived certain intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines commonly known as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in order to boost vaccine production in developing countries. In a new insight, Data and Policy Analyst Tom Lee explores the impacts of suspending TRIPS and notes that the waiver will fail to help countries address the COVID-19 pandemic and future health crises.

Key points:

  • This decision will do nothing to increase vaccine production since it is based on the misconception that IP rights have prevented manufacturers in developing nations from producing COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Developed nations have the comparative advantage in producing highly innovative medical products and therapies such as COVID-19 vaccines; attempting to shift production to developing countries is counterproductive and will likely fail.
  • The June 16 decision will weaken the very forces that have encouraged the rapid and successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Read the analysis