See here, and stories on Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. It remains to be seen what the final deal will look like, and there will certainly be a lot more coverage from other sources in the hours and days to come. My tentative views are that (1) as far as patents are concerned, a waiver will be of greater importance prospectively than immediately, since to my knowledge there are at present few if any issued patents relating to COVID vaccines; and (2) the greater significance of the waiver may pertain to trade secrets, which would be covered by the waiver as originally proposed by South Africa and India, and which may present a bigger obstacle than patents to developing countries making their own generic versions of vaccines.
For readers looking for other discussions on this topic to date, here are some resources I shared with my International Intellectual Property class this past semester. A couple of them are by my students:
Matt Apuzzo & Selam Gebrekidan, Governments Sign Secret Vaccine Deals. Here’s What They Hide, N.Y. Times, Jan. 28, 2021
Joanna T. Brougher & Andrew Kingsbury, Calls for Compulsory Licensing and IP Waivers of COVID-19 Vaccines Ignore Technical Complexities, IP Watchdog, Mar. 30, 2021.
Marra Clay, Patent Pledging Problems: The Open COVID Pledge and Long-Term Solutions to Licensing Intellectual Property in Global Emergencies, Minnesota Law Review Blog, Mar. 23, 2021.
Andrew Karpan, WTO Fails to Reach Deal on COVID IP Waiver Proposal, Again, Law360, Mar. 11, 2020.
Sapna Kumar, Guest Post: Pandemic Drug Shortages: Is Compulsory Licensing the Answer?, Patently-O, Jan. 28, 2021.
Saeed Shah, Developing Countries Push to Limit Patent Protections for Covid-19 Vaccines, Wall St. J., Sept. 17, 2020.
Rachel Thrasher, Why Innovation Would Survive a COVID-19 Waiver, IP Watchdog, Mar. 24, 2021.
Daniel Walsh, Intellectual Property in Crisis: Does SARS-CoV-2 Warrant Waiving TRIPS, LawSci Forum, Feb. 21, 2021.
Update: Very interesting write-up here from Professor Dennis Crouch.
Further update: And this post from Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette is excellent too.