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The COVID-19 vaccine patent: a right without rationale
  1. Nabeel Mahdi Althabhawi1,2,
  2. Ali Adil Kashef Al-Ghetaa3
  1. 1 Law, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
  2. 2 Department of Law, Al-Mustaqbal University College, Hillah, Iraq
  3. 3 Alalamain Institution for Postgraduate Studies, Najaf, Iraq
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nabeel Mahdi Althabhawi, Law, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia; althabhawi{at}


Since the approval of COVID-19 vaccines, international efforts have intensified on vaccination schemes perceived as the only light at the end of the tunnel. Governments are working tirelessly to scale up the number of vaccinated people, just as vaccine manufacturers are stretching their facilities to meet the increasing demand for doses. The international community is trying to help the poorest countries in the world by improving vaccine supplies and removing obstacles. In this regard, India and South Africa have applied to World Trade Organisation to waive vaccine-related intellectual property rights. The proposal has sparked off academic debates as to its merit. This article addresses the waiver controversy. Following a critical review of both dimensions of the controversy, the article concentrates on the extent to which the waiver application contradicts the theoretical justification of the patent system. It concludes that the concerns raised over the conflict between the waiver proposal and the patent right philosophy are indefensible.

  • medical/health law
  • COVID-19
  • health policy

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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  • Contributors Authors contributed to the manuscript equally. NMA is the guarantor of the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.