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We can't let the WTO get in the way of a 'people's vaccine' | Achal Prabhala, Benny Kuruvilla, Burcu Kilic and Dana Brown

The WTO must help sway the planet away from monopoly medicine – the lives of millions of people are on the line We know how to end this pandemic. Our politicians may be sending mixed signals, but the science is clear: we need diagnostics to track the virus, medicines to treat the virus, and – above all – a vaccine to prevent its spread. Researchers around the world are now working to fast-track the development of a vaccine from a duration of one decade to just one year. With over a million lives lost, millions more driven into poverty, and worldwide economic collapse, the prospect of a successful vaccine is the only hope on the horizon of a disastrous year. But who will get the coronavirus vaccines and when? There are two big problems: whether they will be affordable, and whether there will be enough of them to go around. The root of both these problems is not the science – it is the web of intellectual property monopolies that surround the vaccines, as well as almost all the diagnostics and medicines that are of use in the pandemic. And the root of all those monopolies is a rule embedded in the World Trade Organization called Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) that was hustled in after aggressive lobbying from Pfizer and IBM, with the full support of rich country governments. Twenty-five years after its introduction, it has done its job – curtailing access to life-saving medicines and vaccines, boosting the profits of major pharmaceutical companies, hobbling public health, and finally, prolonging our exit from the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading...

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