Germany to help pause the patents so we can get vaccines cheaper and faster

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Globally, 2.4 million have died from COVID-19 [1]. The sooner people have access to COVID-19 vaccines, the more lives will be saved, and less people will get sick.

The world is facing a serious vaccine shortage challenge. At the current rate, vaccines are being administered, some countries will only be able to immunise the majority of their populations as late as 2023 or even 2024 - which will keep the pandemic going and cause many more deaths [2].  But some rich countries have used their power to not only get COVID-19 vaccines first and cheaper, but also buying more vaccines than their people need.

There is a simple solution. We need more vaccines manufactured. But the big pharmaceutical companies who made effective COVID-19 vaccines have something called a patent, which stops others from making the same vaccines they made [3]. This gives companies a lot of power around the pricing and can make them very rich at the expense of many lives. 

At a World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting, South Africa and India proposed that these patents are temporarily paused, but some rich countries move to block this proposal. This Tuesday the 23rd of February, there will be another meeting at the WTO of the Trade Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) council. If we can start building pressure on key countries like Germany, France and Portugal, we can help ensure enough countries vote to pause the patents at the WTO General Council meeting at the start of March.


[1] Covid map: Coronavirus cases, deaths, vaccinations by country by By The Visual and Data Journalism Team for BBC News, 15 Feb 202. 

[2] Most poor nations 'will take until 2024 to achieve mass Covid-19 immunisation' by Michael Safi for The Guardian, Wed 27 Jan 2021.

[3] Vaccines and patents: how self-interest and artificial scarcity weaken human solidarity by Siva Thambisetty for LSE British, Feb 9th 2021.

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