Biden Administration Uselessly Waives COVID-19 Vaccine Patent Rights

This feel-good gesture will discourage future investment and innovation.


Vaccinating billions of people against the COVID-19 coronavirus scourge that continues to rage in South America and South Asia is an urgent matter for the rest of the world. While it appears that the more contagious and lethal B.1.1.7 and P.1 virus variants are blunted by current vaccines, every time the virus infects another person, it increases the risk that other new highly transmissible and deadly variants will emerge. So it is in everybody's interest to manufacture as many doses of the effective vaccines as quickly as possible and support the efforts to distribute them to poor people around the world. Anything that slows down manufacturing and distribution would be counterproductive for everyone.

The Biden administration has reportedly chosen, counterproductively, to cave to the demands of progressives at home and of a group of countries led by South Africa and India and waive the patent rights to the COVID-19 vaccines.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement declaring, "This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines."

Amusingly, Trade Representative Tai issued another statement just last week on the protection of intellectual property that actually explains why waiving patents, in this case, is a bad idea. "Intellectual property rights incentivize our creators, manufacturers, and innovators to invent new products and technologies," Tai said. "The laws, policies, and practices that protect those rights must appropriately balance the interests of creators with those seeking to use their creations. Failing to adequately and effectively protect those rights in foreign markets hurts the U.S. economy, the dynamism of American innovators, and the livelihoods of our workers."

The World Health Organization reports that fewer than 25 countries have the capacity to make any vaccines at all, much less the complicated new COVID-19 vaccines. Statista notes that only six countries are actually producing COVID-19 vaccines now (Russia has just made a deal with China to produce 260 million doses of its Sputnik V vaccine).

The Biden administration's progressive feel-good gesture will in fact discourage future investment and innovation and do nothing to speed COVID-19 vaccines to the people who need them.

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Vaccines Biden Administration Patents

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45 responses to “Biden Administration Uselessly Waives COVID-19 Vaccine Patent Rights

  1. 80 million people voted for Biden so this is exactly what they want.

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      1. No – Biden got 80 million votes counted in his favor. That doesn’t mean that 80 million people voted for him.

        1. It was the most secure fortified election in history!

    2. I didn’t vote for Biden and I don’t see a problem with this. Did you think The Empire was going to waive normal protocols without altering the deal?

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  2. I’m curious how difficult it is technically to ramp up for production level manufacturing of an mRNA vaccine. Are they going to put the product of this newly built manufacturing facility through rigorous testing on thier own? How long is this going to take? Just let everyone make thier own vaccine at home, the way they made cloth masks.

    1. China has facilities ready and waiting for this nationalization of yet another segment of the US economy.

  3. O/T – I shouldn’t be surprised, but AYFKM?

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    1. From a review: “Very lifelike” Ew.

      1. His positions change all by themselves!

    2. Looks like a fun thing for the target range.

    3. If the phrase ‘Ruth Bader Ginsberg action figure’ doesn’t convince you that these are dolls being sold as action figures, I don’t know what would.

      It’s so lifelike!

  4. do nothing to speed COVID-19 vaccines to the people who need them

    Yes but that’s the point. The socialists were disappointed that the vaccines came out so quickly (even though it took almost a year). Without the vaccines they would have had more opportunity to inflict damage and push the country deeper in debt (and exacerbate learning deficits, obesity, etc). Eroding property rights will undermine the incentive to quickly develop a cure for the next pandemic, which gives socialists more opportunity for political gain through dependence on government.

  5. Next, Biden will order that the engineers who designed and built the vaccine manufacturing lines in the U.S. to go to foreign shithole countries to oversee building production lines there – at no cost to those governments, of course.

  6. “This feel-good gesture will discourage future investment and innovation.”

    Progressivism is all about using the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices for the common good as they see it. Progressives don’t care whether forced sacrifice discourages future investment and innovation. The “feel-good” gesture of forcing others to sacrifice is what it’s all about to them. Forced sacrifice isn’t the means to anything. It’s the goal.

  7. Senile Joe just loves to write those checks. Hope they don’t bounce.

    1. I believe the phrase in finance is “dead cat bounce”.

  8. Private firms with patent protection had vaccines in days without government meddling. The government bungled testing for many months and produced a continuing clown show staring from top billed Trumpy the Clown on down to distract from its failure. Guess which this move makes more likely next time we desperately need a vaccine.

    1. Trump was behind the fast tracking vaccine development.

  9. According to this (photo from the BBC reposted on twitter) most of the funding comes from public money though.

    Why shouldn’t the #1 investor get to also get the patent rights for the product, and why would, for example, Moderna which had all funding from public & Not-for-profit sources turn down another $600 million to pay for their development cost only because they’ll have to share the patent eventually?

    As long as we pay most the money down for R&D, there’s nothing to lose in taking the deal for the companies even if the patent is released, or what am I missing in econ 101 terms here?

    1. And I’ve seen the numbers are out of date, so it comes down to nuance then: As long as you still make profit even with the release, why not take the deal the next time again? Profit is profit, and what else could you have done during the pandemic to make equally as much money?

      1. “what else could you have done during the pandemic to make equally as much money?”

        Run the money printers?

    2. Yeah, the IP Is a distraction.

      From a libertarian standpoint, I don’t see the downside past government taxation. Is it really a problem if Big Pharma will be more reluctant to jump into bed with big government in the future? It’s not like they’ll see millions of people dying with fists full of cash in the street and think, “Nah, keep it.” More trade secrets and less patent protection is good as far as I can tell.

      If the big worry is driving pharma further into the throes of government/regulatory capture, the ship sailed a long time ago and my “Fuck you, cut spending” stance contains no special exceptions for IP.

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  12. It’s an interesting legal question. Giving up (i.e. stealing) patent rights would normally be a significant 5th Amdt Takings problem. Except that federal funded research most often has March In rights for the government. Except that in some of these cases, much of the inventive work likely went on before the companies got federal funding, and thus ay not be covered by the March In rights (back to Takings). Moreover, patents are national, not international. There are mechanisms for taking patent applications international (e.g. PCT), but there is a question on how the US govt can give up the patent rights of these companies around the world – which is a good part of what they claim is necessary.

  13. Libertarians for locking up the free exchange of information in intellectual property!

    1. Asked the guy who never invented anything.

      1. Never invented anything or never patented anything?

        My 7 yr. old invented a new variety of twinkie weiner sandwiches, where does he file for his patent?

      2. Socks don’t count?

    2. Heaven forbid big pharma think twice the next time US Gov’t dumptrucks full of cash show up at their door!

    3. Im not hardcore on this, but patent protection is waaaay overboard, and I dont have any sympathy at all for healthcare industry in this regard, theyve been manipulating IP laws to squeeze the public since forever.

      1. Agree. I still don’t know how I feel about this particular example (there’s a difference between easing up on patent protections and ex post facto forcing companies to share their technology with the world). But it’s an enormous myth that patents encourage innovation. Once a company develops a medication, the length of the patent protection just encourages them to NOT innovate (which requires overhead and risk) and instead just protect and enforce their patents as long as they possibly can and stifle others from innovating to increase profits.

  14. Why does everyone keep using the word “waive”.

    Intellectual property is property. Biden wishes to use force of the State to take private property because it is the mindset of the liberals that all property belongs to the government to distribute as the government sees fit.

    We have already moved past socialism, and straight into fascism.

    1. Why does everyone keep using the word “waive”.

      Intellectual property is property.

      Maybe you’re unaware that throughout our nation’s and much of human history any claim to a piece of property was only as good as the government that honored the claim.

      You may argue that it’s a legitimate function of government to defend such property but, then, if it only exists because the government protects it, is it not fascism? Moreover, even if you think it’s a legitimate function of government, would you say that I should be compelled to share the notion?

      IP outside trademarks and trade secrets shouldn’t exist and, even then, trademark regulation should be enforced by industry standards and judicial decision/deferrence, not by self-regulated bureaucracy. Additionally, saying that IP is property is a two-way street. If the property only exists because the government defends the rights, then eminent domain gains credibility.

    2. IP is not property at all. If someone can come up with the formula, and production techniques without outright stealing designs, it isnt stealing.
      If I build a exact copy of your house without stealing any of your resources, I did not steal your house.
      Being the first to accomplish something that many other people are also working on should not prohibit all of the competition from legitimately coming up with the same solution. If 1000 of people are all looking to solve the same problem, sometimes they are going to come up with the same exact solution without stealing or cheating in any way. Look at the history of cars, television and radio for numerous examples.

      1. Bingo.

  15. Hold on a minute here.
    I thought there was so much vaccine that we throw out thousands of doses.

  16. This is ridiculous. Biden has his big “checkbook” why doesn’t he just buy more vaccines to ship around the world. Blowing up IP law and capitalism at its finest hour — these vaccines are ending the pandemic— would be a horrible precedent and not a good look when we are pressing China to respect intellectual property. Biden is a disaster

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  18. yeah i think we have more vaccines now

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  21. Biden administration has been trying to recover the damage due to the covid-19 crisis. There is a lot of reasons why all the previous steps to control the spreading of the coronavirus in the USA. I have been working as a senior at this website and help the people. I hope we all the people should work together during this pandemic situation!

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