Does TRIPS (agreement on trade‐related aspects of intellectual property rights) prevent COVID‐19 vaccines as a global public good?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of World Intellectual Property. 2021, 24 (3-4), 195-220 10.1111/jwip.12187
The article analyses the global public goods approach to COVID‐19 technologies, embedded in 2020 affirmations by the World Health Assembly (WHA), the UN Human Rights Council and G20 on broad immunization against COVID‐19. After identifying the access to COVID‐19 tools (ACT) Accelerator members, the UN efforts are identified, focusing primarily on the UN human rights bodies, acknowledging how these and the WHA have mutually reinforced each others' efforts. The article finds that the global public goods terminology appeared in UN resolutions in 2020, while wording that included vaccines—on an equal footing as medicines—appeared in 2016, and recognition of generic medicines appeared in 2019. The so‐ called Trilateral Cooperation on IP and public health between two UN specialized agencies and the World Trade Organization (WTO) has increased awareness of the flexibilities within WTO's TRIPS Agreement. These flexibilities are explained. With notable exceptions, like India, these flexibilities are not widely applied in domestic legislation. A different emphasis characterizes the millennium development goals era as compared to the sustainable development goals era, and this shift is explained by applyin relevant theories. Among pro‐TRIPS developed countries there is an acknowledgment of obstacles created by the IP system, but their overall position has not change.