US President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, bowing to mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries.
However, according to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon, just waving patents is not enough.
“Vaccine inequity is raising a very serious debate about patent waivers. The point is that just waiving patents is not enough; this is not a stumbling block. I do not think patents are the stumbling block at the moment. The stumbling block is capacity for the world,” Mazumdar-Shaw told CNBC-TV18.
“Indian vaccine makers are making a very high volume of vaccines, but for a country like India alone we will need at least 2 billion vaccines to be produced in the shortest possible time and that’s the challenge. So it is about capacity ramping up and patent waivers like has happened in the case of many companies, Moderna has already suspended its patent, but is that going to help the situation. I do not think because it takes a long time for these processes to be developed and commercialized,” she said.
According to her, patents are a contentious and political issue. “Patents becomes a contentious issue and very political issue and that’s why everyone asking for patent waivers for limited periods of time and that’s one mechanism to adjust the looming challenge that we have for access to vaccines. Therefore, it’s extremely important for richer countries to not hoard vaccines but to make them available for low and middle-income countries (LMIC),’ said Mazumdar-Shaw.
For the entire interview, watch the video