ARTICLE | Politics, Policy & Law

As Biden backs WTO IP waiver for COVID vaccines, debate focuses on precedent, not access

May 6, 2021 12:54 AM UTC

The biopharma industry condemned, and a wide range of politicians and global health advocates praised, the Biden administration’s decision to support a WTO waiver of IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines, but no one predicted that the move will quickly increase vaccine supplies to developing countries. Arguments for and against the policy are focused more on the precedent it sets rather than on its potential for reducing global inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in statement. “We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) needed to make that happen. Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved.”...