The rollout of effective COVID-19 vaccines is happening at a historically unprecedented pace. Manufacturing and delivering vaccines to some 7.8 billion people worldwide, however, has reignited tensions about the role of intellectual property in medicine. How do patent protections facilitate vaccine research and development? What is protected by vaccine patents? How might US and EU patents complicate international vaccine distribution? Should those IP protections be waived to facilitate vaccine distribution to poorer nations?
The program will begin with a brief overview of vaccine history and a virtual tour of relevant objects from the Smithsonian’s collections. Then the panelists will engage in a discussion concerning the ethical, commercial, and global health implications of vaccine patents, followed by audience Q&A.