Is waiving IP protection a magic wand to make COVID-19 vaccines quicker and cheaper?


  • Van Anh Le*
  • Leah Samson


The COVID-19 waiver proposal put forward by India and Brazil in October 2020 has stirred public debate over the role of the intellectual property (IP) system. Many countries, including Vietnam, have expressed their support for this initiative. The waiver proponents argued that IP rights, mainly patents, have stalled global vaccination supplies. However, this paper challenges this view arguing that waiving IP rights is not a magic wand to make vaccines cheaper and quicker. Bottlenecks that slow vaccine rollout do not lie with the IP system but with manufacturing capacity, supply chain, and export restrictions. Therefore, instead of discussing the waiver proposal, world leaders should redirect their effort to address trade restrictions and improve global manufacturing partnerships. Countries with a low pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity like Vietnam should start thinking about being more well-prepared for the next pandemic. A classic but essential recommendation for a country like Vietnam is to build up its local manufacturing capacity and attract partnerships with research-based pharmaceutical companies. Given the complexity of the vaccine industry and manufacturing process, it usually takes between 5 to 10 years to build physical infrastructure and standardise the local industry to comply with international standards; hence, Vietnam should invest more into R&D, starting now, to be more self-sufficient in the future.


Covid-19, intellectual property, patent, vaccines, waiver


Classification number


Author Biographies

Van Anh Le

Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, St Cross Building, St Cross Road, Oxford City, United Kingdom

Leah Samson

Tozers Solicitors, Broadwalk House, Southernhay Ward, Exeter City, United Kingdom




Received 24 November 2021; revised 4 February 2022; accepted 22 February 2022

How to Cite

Van Anh Le, & Leah Samson. (2022). Is waiving IP protection a magic wand to make COVID-19 vaccines quicker and cheaper?. The VMOST Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 64(1), 60-66.