Intended for healthcare professionals


Suspend intellectual property rights for covid-19 vaccines

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 28 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1344

Read our latest coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

  1. Priti Krishtel, co-executive director1,
  2. Rohit Malpani, global health consultant
  1. 1Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK), Oakland, CA, USA
  2. 2Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to: P Krishtel priti{at}
    @pritikrishtel on Twitter

Waivers are essential for global vaccine equity

The United States caught the world by surprise on 5 May 2021 when it announced its intention to support a World Trade Organization proposal that would temporarily waive intellectual property rights on covid-19 vaccines. While this move is encouraging, the Biden administration’s support is the first step of many required.1

Waiving intellectual property rights is essential to tackle serious inequity in the global distribution of covid-19 vaccines, whereby wealthy countries currently control the lion’s share of existing supplies. By the end of April, over 1.3 billion doses had been administered worldwide, but only 0.2% of vaccines had been given in low income countries.2

More than one year into the pandemic, the situation is at a low point globally. The average number of weekly deaths in April was over 36 000 in just India and Brazil,3 and variants are proliferating. Experts fear a devastating second wave across Asia and Africa.4

Voluntary action has not worked— whether timely sharing of doses with low and middle income countries or sharing knowledge through the World Health …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription