India and South Africa recently urged the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The claim is that this would allow developing countries to manufacture “cheap” COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines, hastening the end to the pandemic—at least, that’s what proponents claim. They’re wrong. Dangerously wrong. Gutting IP protections won’t make COVID-19 medications more readily available but it will set a terrible precedent that will chill future medical innovation.
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