“It signals that the United States is willing to play footsie with India and South Africa on this essential sort of lie, that pulling back on patent protections globally will somehow solve more problems than it creates, and that’s a delusion. And we’re buying into it,” said James Pooley, a former deputy director general at the World Intellectual Property Organization. “That itself will have a dampening effect on the willingness of companies to invest in technologies.”
According to the tentative plan, WTO members will decide whether to extend the waiver to “cover the production and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics” within six months of an agreement.
McDole, however, noted that “like the vaccine manufacturers, Gilead and other therapeutic manufacturers are continuously entering into voluntary licenses to increase production and access” for Covid treatments.
The waiver, particularly from the U.S. point of view, is “the worst of both worlds,” Pooley said.
“It doesn’t solve the actual problems of vaccine availability,” and “it reinforces the idea that whenever we have some sort of global issue, let’s look at ways in which the IP system can be seen as a barrier,” he said.