University of Miami Inter-American Law Review


The impact of the COVID–19 pandemic has been felt world-wide, and despite having several vaccines in the market at this point, there are still issues of accessibility for certain countries. International intellectual property law has been a breeding ground for the exploration of intellectual curiosity and creation as it provides strong protections to creators. These strong protections have allowed for the monopolization of certain goods, such as vaccines, under the concept of patents. While patents are important to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to create life–saving medicines, these protections have also become a barrier for access to medicines, especially in less–developed countries. This Note seeks to address the interplay between international intellectual property rights and the right to health under the inter-national human rights framework. Specifically, it will dis-cuss the two differing rights through the United States and Canada’s efforts to promote creation of COVID–19 vaccine candidates. In order to highlight the financial driver behind patent protections, this note will compare the production and patenting process of the COVID–19 vaccines, a virus that also heavily impacted developed countries, versus the under–funded Ebola virus, which predominantly effected less–developed countries. Finally, this Note will offer recommendations on how countries, and pharmaceutical companies, can take a human rights approach by utilizing patent protection exceptions in order to make COVID–19 vaccines accessible to all countries.