The US has backed India and SA’s bid to temporarily lift patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines. The support for an IP waiver by the WTO has left pharma companies dismayed and health activists asking for more. Public health activists say the easing of patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines will allow drugmakers in poor countries to start production of effective vaccines sooner and speed up the end of the pandemic, which if allowed to rage could see the emergence of vaccine-resistant Covid-19 variants.

The proposal was vehemently opposed by the previous US administration and other wealthy nations such as Britain as well as the EU, who said that a ban would stifle innovation at pharmaceutical companies by robbing them of the incentive to make huge investments in research and development. This, they argue, would be especially counterproductive during the current pandemic, which needed drugmakers to remain on their toes to deal with a mutating virus. So which side is right and will any of this lead us to have vaccines faster than the current rate of nothing for anyone outside of healthcare workers?

Michael Avery spoke to Stavros Nicolaou, chair of Pharmisa, the SA Pharmaceutical Producers Association; Prof John McKnight partner at law form Spoor and Fisher specialising in patent law; and Leon Louw, executive director of the Free Market Foundation.

Michael Avery and a panel of experts talk about the '5am Club' and Covid Burnout

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