Since October last year India and South Africa – backed by 100 other countries – have been passionately making the case to the World Trade Organisation that it should suspend intellectual property rights, such as patents and trademarks, on products needed to fight COVID-19. Earlier this month the US backtracked from its earlier opposition, announcing it supported a waiver on vaccine intellectual property rights. How much of a difference will this make to more equitable access? Erin Hannah, James Scott, Silke Trommer and Sophie Harman issue a word of caution: the US announcement marks the start of the battle, not the end of the war. For their part, Enrico Bonadio and Filippo Fontanelli set out the challenges facing the campaign.

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Ina Skosana

Health + Medicine Editor (Africa edition)

Protesters gather in Cambridge to demanding that AstraZeneca shares blueprints for its COVID-19 vaccine. Luciana Guerra/PA Images via Getty Images

TRIPS waiver: US support is a major step but no guarantee of COVID-19 vaccine equity

Erin Hannah, Western University; James Scott, King's College London; Silke Trommer, University of Manchester; Sophie Harman, Queen Mary University of London

Much remains to be resolved before the waiver is translated into increased vaccine supply.


Push for COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver isn’t a panacea: but it could nudge companies to share

Enrico Bonadio, City, University of London; Filippo Fontanelli, University of Edinburgh

Waiver talks might convince companies to focus on technology transfer and training, and let go of the plan to maximise patent-based revenues.


Nigeria’s okada motorcycles have a bad image, but banning them solves nothing

Chidi Nzeadibe, University of Nigeria

Bans haven't been effective in curbing the ubiquity of commercial motorcycles in Lagos.

Ghana’s road traffic problems have deep and spreading roots

Festival Godwin Boateng, Columbia University

The inability to curb road accidents in Ghana is tied to colonial and neocolonial legacies.

From our international editions

Plastic pollution: scientists track a cargo spill from New York to Norway, reveal how currents disperse harmful substances

Andrew Turner, University of Plymouth

Thousands of shipping containers are lost at sea each year, dispersing Lego, inkjet cartridges and rubber ducks across the world's beaches.

Type 2 diabetes: sitting can cause problems with blood sugar levels, so get up and move

Aye Chan Paing, Glasgow Caledonian University; Sebastien Chastin, Glasgow Caledonian University

Even just a few minutes of walking every hour can help better manage blood sugar levels.

En Français

Une aide internationale aux pays les plus pauvres encore insuffisante malgré des montants historiques

Morgane Rosier, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Si l’aide publique au développement n’a jamais été aussi élevée au niveau mondial qu’en 2020, ses montants demeurent insuffisants et ses modalités doivent encore être améliorées.

Covid-19 : la levée des brevets sur les vaccins, remède miracle ou mirage ?

Clotilde Jourdain-Fortier, Université de Bourgogne – UBFC; Mathieu Guerriaud, Université de Bourgogne – UBFC

La suspension temporaire de la propriété intellectuelle réclamée par Washington et Paris entraînerait une longue réorganisation de la production incompatible avec l’urgence qu’exige la pandémie.


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