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After a year of politicking, the Brazilian senate passed a bill that would permit the government to temporarily suspend any and all patents for medical products that could be used to fight Covid-19, as well as any future public health emergency declared by Brazilian authorities or the World Health Organization. Any license would be valid only for the duration of such an emergency.

The legislation now goes to the lower house of Congress, although it remains unclear if it will have the same level of support. At the time the bill was introduced a year ago, the government of President Bolsonaro publicly opposed proposals to suspend patent protections, arguing such a move could endanger talks with vaccine makers. We asked his office for comment and will pass along any reply.


The 55-to-19 vote came against a backdrop of mounting angst over the rising cost of medicines, but specifically access to Covid-19 vaccines. Last year, Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist who decries globalism, downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, leading to governmental missteps in fighting the pandemic. The death toll from the virus surpassed 400,000 as the senate passed the bill.

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