Patent rights or patient rights? An Assessment of Intellectual Property and Right to Health within the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Tisi, Alessandra
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Global Campus of Human Rights
The outburst of Covid-19 and the global unequal distribution of vaccines among the countries turned on again the existing tensions between the global rich, developed north and the global south on the role played by intellectual property in relation to access to vaccines. Their opposing positions on the issue has been brought to a deadlock at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where for months a proposal on a temporary suspension of intellectual property has been discussed with no solution in sight. In fact, if rich developed countries consider it as the reason why vaccines have been developed so fast, developing countries see 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 intellectual property plays in relation to the right to health to check whether it enables or limits the fulfilment of the state’s duties towards that right. My work will start from a theoretical analysis of the international legal framework around intellectual property, 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 intellectual property in the actual pandemic situation, with the hope to give the reader an encompassing perspective on the issue.
Global Campus - Europe.
EMA - European Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation, Global Campus of Human Rights Headquarters.
Second semester University: University of Southern Denmark / Danish Institute for Human Rights.
COVID-19 pandemic, right to health, intellectual property, World Trade Organisation, international relations, North-South dialogue