The COVID-19 pandemic has seen governments and private firms globally rush to develop an effective vaccine. The economics of vaccine development are influenced by the nature of what is being developed, namely knowledge embodied in a vaccine which is protected by an intellectual property right. Discuss the challenges of protecting the intellectual property embodied in a vaccine and the trade-offs associated with patents. In your answer you should discuss:

•The rationale for using patents to protect the intellectual property rights embodied in vaccines, including the incentives they create.

•The costs, benefits and trade-offs of using patents to protect vaccines. For example, the trade-offs associated with how long the patent lasts.

•The implications of using patents to protect vaccines for access to vaccines. While your discussion should focus on the general issue of vaccines and intellectual property rights, the discussion should address the specific challenges associated with the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. In particular, are there any specific economic challenges associated with the development and distribution of such a vaccine. What economic considerations are associated with alternative approaches to the development of such a vaccine? Useful starting references for your research into this issue may be:

Posner, R.A., 2005. Intellectual property: The law and economics approach. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(2), pp.57-73.Moser, P., 2013. Patents and innovation: evidence from economic history. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(1), pp.23-44.Eccleston-Turner, M., 2016. The Economic Theory of Patent Protection and Pandemic Influenza Vaccines: Do Patents Really Incentivize Innovation in the Field?. American Journal of Law & Medicine, 42(2-3), pp.572-597.

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