Patent rights or patient rights? An assessment of intellectual property and right to health within the Covid-19 pandemic
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The outburst of Covid-19 and the global unequal distribution of vaccines among the world countries turned on again the existing tensions between the global rich, developed north and the global south on the role played by intellectual property (IP) in relation to access to vaccines. Their opposing positions on the issue brought to a deadlock at the WTO, where since months a proposal on a temporary suspension of IP is being discussed with no solution in sight. In fact, if rich developed countries consider it as the reason why vaccines got developed so fast, developing countries sees in it the main burden towards an equitable production and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines. Considering the pandemic situation and the heated debate at the WTO, this thesis will explore the role that IP plays in relation to the right to health to check whether it enables or limit the fulfilment of the state’s duties towards that right. My work will start from a theoretical analysis of the international legal framework around IP, will proceed through an assessment of the consequences deriving from its practical implementation and will end with a closer look at the role played by IP in the actual pandemic situation, with the hope to give the reader an encompassing perspective on the issue.