The US is now backing plans that could help billions more access vaccines. The UK should follow suit
The rapid emergence of Covid vaccines has been a remarkable yet bittersweet success, pointing to both humanity’s scientific achievements and its social and economic failures. Experts created them at extraordinary speed; yet as the pandemic rages, many of those most vulnerable and at risk still have little prospect of accessing doses. We have created vaccine billionaires, yet cannot vaccinate billions.
An unexpected and very welcome reversal by the United States could change this. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures, its trade representative, Katherine Tai, said on Wednesday. It is backing a plan to suspend intellectual property (IP) protections for vaccines – to the dismay of the big pharma firms that it has long protected. The head of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, rightly described this as a monumental moment in the fight against Covid.
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