COVID-19 Patent Waivers Are Not A Silver Bullet : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money The US just backed calls by South Africa and India to waive intellectual property protection for COVID-19 vaccines, but that may not be enough to ramp up vaccine production.
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The Great Vaccine Patent-Off

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The Great Vaccine Patent-Off

The Great Vaccine Patent-Off

The Great Vaccine Patent-Off

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/997641539/997643340" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images
(Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on around the world, vaccines are not being made fast enough. 91% of the world still has not gotten a single shot. One big idea right now is removing intellectual property from COVID-19 vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, however, say this is a bad idea. People against temporarily waiving patents say we need to keep incentives for companies to innovate for the next virus.

But another position is that the whole patent debate is kind of a side show — what's really needed is to build and equip new factories that can make these vaccines and to train up staff. That manufacturing training is not easy. It's best person-to-person, and it often needs to come from the pharmaceutical company that developed the vaccines in the first place.

On The Indicator, we discuss vaccine knowledge transfer. How do you teach a company on the other side of the world how to make a cutting-edge vaccine? We're going deep on one part of the patent debate that both sides agree on: Whether or not we temporarily get rid of intellectual property protection, teaching people how to make the vaccines properly is critical.

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