As countries around the globe work to get their citizen vaccinated against COVID-19, a battle over intellectual property rules has emerged at the World Trade Organization. Last year, Canada passed legislation designed to ensure that patents would not pose a barrier to securing supplies of a vaccine or treatment. A year later, developing countries around the world have looked to the WTO to develop similar standards through a waiver process that would speed up access to, and production of, vaccines. Yet the proposal has run into opposition at the WTO, including from Canada.
Thiru Balasubramaniam is the Geneva Representative of Knowledge Ecology International, where he works on IP, health, and trade issues at the WTO, WIPO, and World Health Organization. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the recent developments at the WTO, the position of developed countries such as Canada, and what this means for global access to critical vaccines.