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Amid intense debate over equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, the European Union is offering a rival plan to a controversial proposal that would temporarily waive intellectual property protections in a World Trade Organization Agreement. But critics say the alternative is inadequate.

The proposed plan is designed to safeguard patent rights, a hot-button issue for the pharmaceutical industry and some EU countries where drug makers are based. Instead, the EU suggested several ideas to increase equitable vaccine distribution, such as limiting export restrictions, voluntary licensing, sharing expertise, tiered pricing, making it easier for countries to use existing rules to override patents in some cases, and new investments in manufacturing plants in developing countries (part one and part two).

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