Vaccine intellectual property must be protected, Kentucky business community says

As President Joe Biden backs waiving intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines, the Kentucky Chamber has expressed opposition to this policy stating it sets a harmful precedent and stifles innovation.

President Biden came out in favor of a World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal in May that would waive certain intellectual property protections around COVID-19 vaccines. The proposal would reveal proprietary information held by companies designing the shots such as Pfizer. The WTO policy seeks to give away the intellectual property of companies who have produced an effective product in an attempt to boost production and address distribution issues across the globe.

However, the Kentucky Chamber believes waiving IP protections would not increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine because it would not solve issues such as limited manufacturing capacity, limited access to raw materials, and limited technical expertise with this specific vaccine. Instead, waiving IP protections would have the negative effect of undermining the type of risk-taking and innovation necessary to create vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccine. Protection of intellectual property was a key driver in the rapid development of COVID vaccines, and the U.S. should support protecting IP as it has done in the past. Waiving IP protections could negatively affect the creation of future life-saving pharmaceuticals.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Chamber released the following statement:

“The Chamber applauds the scientists and researchers who created innovative, life-saving COVID vaccines at record speeds and recognizes the importance of vaccinating people beyond our borders. Waiving intellectual property rights for these complex vaccines would undermine efforts to ensure doses are produced and delivered safely and quickly. Preserving IP protections is fundamental to stopping the spread of COVID and driving the innovation we will need to fight future pandemics,” said Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts.  

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Jacqueline Pitts
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