The article deals with the current debate about COVID-19 Vaccines as global public/common goods. After a brief introduction on the global epidemiological and economic implication of the pandemic, the problem of the correct characterization of either vaccine or immunization/herd immunity as global public/common good, according to the necessary characteristics outlined by the pertinent economic theories, is addressed. The conclusion is that the term “global public good”/global common goods” has been extensively used in the last two years by policy makers, political leaders, academics, economists, international organizations, NGOs and others health groups, in a sort of “loose way”. Substantially, in order to underscore that equitable access to health products, including vaccines, health and biomedical technologies, medical services, medical devises, whose availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability to the world is fundamental to tackling the pandemic. The current legal proprietary regime applied to vaccines, extensively covered by IPRs, has transformed an intrinsically non-excludable common/public good (the vaccines, due to their nature and characteristics) in something excludable and rival in consumption. Consequently, the article argues that what is needed is a swift in their legal governance. The current legal discipline of vaccines and health technologies must be changed to bring it into line with the non-excludable nature of these goods. The richest countries in the world, in pursuit of their “vaccine nationalisms”, have already collectively preordered 8.8 billion doses of vaccine, far in excess of need, thus obliging billions of people in the Global South to wait years to be vaccinated. In this respect, the article investigates the EU vaccines strategy and analyzes the Advanced Purchase Agreements signed by the European Commission with the major vaccine producers, enlightening the untenable secrecy and opacity with which the European Union’s executive has handled COVID-19 vaccine supply contracts, and how it has simply paid no more than lip-service to the concept of global common/public good by attributing a broad “private governance” to the pharmaceutical companies. Then, the various arguments, for and against, the Waiver Proposal to several sections of the WTO TRIPS agreement, introduced by India and South Africa on the TRIPS Council on October 2020, have been briefly summarized, accounting the current luck of needed consensus among the various members of the WTO. The article however describes an important number of new global and collaborative efforts already put in place by a myriad public and private actors to allow efficient development and production of vaccines in order to enhance a global access to vaccines. The article concludes by stressing the major developments in the U.S. patent’s landscape and in the Biden Administration’s attitude towards the current global health crisis, that leave hope for “extraordinary measures” to be agreed by the international community in near future. The auspice is that the time has finally arrived for the international community to develop reliable and long term solutions to tackle future global pandemic, preferably by the negotiation of a new WHO global health treaty, to secure universal fair access to essential technologies and vaccines and protecting them as global public/common goods.

COVID-19 Vaccines as Global Common Goods: An Integrated Approach of Ethical, Economic Policy and Intellectual Property Management / N. Boschiero. - In: GLOBAL JURIST. - ISSN 2194-5675. - (2021), pp. 1-54. [Epub ahead of print] [10.1515/gj-2021-0042]

COVID-19 Vaccines as Global Common Goods: An Integrated Approach of Ethical, Economic Policy and Intellectual Property Management

N. Boschiero
2021

Abstract

The article deals with the current debate about COVID-19 Vaccines as global public/common goods. After a brief introduction on the global epidemiological and economic implication of the pandemic, the problem of the correct characterization of either vaccine or immunization/herd immunity as global public/common good, according to the necessary characteristics outlined by the pertinent economic theories, is addressed. The conclusion is that the term “global public good”/global common goods” has been extensively used in the last two years by policy makers, political leaders, academics, economists, international organizations, NGOs and others health groups, in a sort of “loose way”. Substantially, in order to underscore that equitable access to health products, including vaccines, health and biomedical technologies, medical services, medical devises, whose availability, accessibility, acceptability, affordability to the world is fundamental to tackling the pandemic. The current legal proprietary regime applied to vaccines, extensively covered by IPRs, has transformed an intrinsically non-excludable common/public good (the vaccines, due to their nature and characteristics) in something excludable and rival in consumption. Consequently, the article argues that what is needed is a swift in their legal governance. The current legal discipline of vaccines and health technologies must be changed to bring it into line with the non-excludable nature of these goods. The richest countries in the world, in pursuit of their “vaccine nationalisms”, have already collectively preordered 8.8 billion doses of vaccine, far in excess of need, thus obliging billions of people in the Global South to wait years to be vaccinated. In this respect, the article investigates the EU vaccines strategy and analyzes the Advanced Purchase Agreements signed by the European Commission with the major vaccine producers, enlightening the untenable secrecy and opacity with which the European Union’s executive has handled COVID-19 vaccine supply contracts, and how it has simply paid no more than lip-service to the concept of global common/public good by attributing a broad “private governance” to the pharmaceutical companies. Then, the various arguments, for and against, the Waiver Proposal to several sections of the WTO TRIPS agreement, introduced by India and South Africa on the TRIPS Council on October 2020, have been briefly summarized, accounting the current luck of needed consensus among the various members of the WTO. The article however describes an important number of new global and collaborative efforts already put in place by a myriad public and private actors to allow efficient development and production of vaccines in order to enhance a global access to vaccines. The article concludes by stressing the major developments in the U.S. patent’s landscape and in the Biden Administration’s attitude towards the current global health crisis, that leave hope for “extraordinary measures” to be agreed by the international community in near future. The auspice is that the time has finally arrived for the international community to develop reliable and long term solutions to tackle future global pandemic, preferably by the negotiation of a new WHO global health treaty, to secure universal fair access to essential technologies and vaccines and protecting them as global public/common goods.
COVID-19; VACCINES; Global Common Goods, health care products, global common goods, economic crisis and costs of the pandemic, inequalities, intellectual property rights, management of the commons, cooperation and solidarity;
Settore IUS/13 - Diritto Internazionale
1-ott-2021
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/872373
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