Intellectual Property and COVID-19 Vaccines: Unpacking a Fraught Debate

Thursday, May 6, 2021 noon to 1 p.m.

A GEEOlogue Discussion

Speaker: Rachel Silverman, Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development

In the context of striking international inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines, South Africa and India have requested that the World Trade Organization adopt a temporary waiver on Intellectual Property (IP) protections related to COVID-19 health technologies. This request—and the global conversation it has inspired—is the latest chapter in a longstanding debate about the role of IP as a potentially limiting factor in access to lifesaving medicines, especially in low- and middle-income countries with lower capacity to pay for monopolist prices. This talk will explore the potential effects of such a waiver vis-à-vis COVID-19 vaccines, arguing that it is unlikely to have much practical effect in expanding access or supply. Nevertheless, it will consider how activist pressure on IP can create an enabling environment for voluntary licensing and technology transfer—a practical path forward to accelerate the pace of global manufacturing.

Speaker bio: 

Rachel Silverman is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, where she leads policy-oriented research on global health financing and incentive structures. Silverman’s current research focuses on innovation and incentive models for global health; the practical application of results-based financing; global health transitions; efficient global health procurement; priority-setting for UHC; alignment and impact in international funding for family planning; and strategies to strengthen evidence and accountability. Before joining CGD in 2011 she worked with the National Democratic Institute to support democracy and governance strengthening programs in Kosovo. She holds a master’s of philosophy with distinction in public health from the University of Cambridge, which she attended as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She also holds a BA with distinction in international relations and economics from Stanford University.

Zoom Event Information:

Meeting ID: 932 7388 3361
Passcode: 366330

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Alexandra Ramirez


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Global Health UCF GEEO Rachel Silverman GEEOlogue