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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…)