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A step backwards in the fight against global vaccine inequities

5th January 2021

The news that an effective vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 will be introduced imminently was welcomed with great enthusiasm worldwide. The consensus is that access to vaccines for low-income countries is a global responsibility.

To make sure that all countries and their citizens will have equal access to a vaccine, Eswatini, India, Kenya, and South Africa proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights by the World Trade Organization. Acceptance of the proposal would allow low-income countries to produce their own COVID-19 vaccine. However, various high-income countries rejected the proposal, arguing that they cannot support the proposed broad exceptions to protection of intellectual property rights, even in an exceptional crisis such as COVID-19.

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