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Around 25% of the population of the world is under 15 years of age. With around 7.9 billion people on Earth, that means there are approx. 5.9 billion adults on this Blue Marble. Assuming all these adults are given a 2-shot Covid vaccine around 12 billion doses are required to vaccinate 75% of the World’s population. Although somewhere north of 8.6 billion doses have apparently been ordered there is an obvious imbalance in the distribution of vaccines.
This imbalance in vaccine distribution gave rise back in October last year to a proposal from India and South Africa for a waiver from certain Intellectual Property provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. In recent weeks the clamour for such a waiver to be approved has increased and is often presented as the solution to the problem “we’re not safe until we’re all safe”. In the last week, the US apparently reversed its long standing position against such waivers when Ambassador Katherine Tai announced that the US would support waiving intellectual property provisions for COVID-19 vaccines.
However, will such an IP waiver (also referred to in the press as a “patent waiver”) be the silver bullet solution to vaccine shortages that it’s being portrayed as? (more…)
At time of writing, the University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, have announced data from Phase III trials showing that their candidate vaccine can indeed effectively prevent the disease, including an observed reduction in asymptomatic infections.
There are many reasons to be excited about these findings. The speed of development and testing is unprecedented. A large number of doses are already manufactured, with many more on their way. Then there is the fact that the temperature stability and low cost of this particular vaccine (in comparison to others under development) could mean that it can be rolled out to the developing world more effectively, and so possibly mark the beginning of the end for the devastating pandemic worldwide.
Of course, just as importantly, it provides an opportunity to consider the patentability of medical inventions relating to different dosage regimes at the European Patent Office (EPO). (more…)