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US supports vaccine patent waiver proposal at World Trade Organization

CNN: “The Biden administration, in a major decision Wednesday, said it would support easing patent rules on Covid-19 vaccines after intense internal debate and strong pushback from American drugmakers, potentially expanding the global supply and narrowing the vaccination gap between rich and poor nations. The move is preliminary and will not guarantee the global patent rules are lifted right away. But the Biden administration’s signal of support amounts to a major step that aid groups and Democrats had been pressing for. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai wrote in a statement…”

BBC – Covid: US backs waiver on vaccine patents to boost supply…Intellectual property describes creations, such as inventions, which are protected by patents, copyrights and trademarks. These prevent copying and allow the originator to be financially rewarded. Patents give innovating firms a short-term monopoly on production to cover the costs of development and encourage investment. Biotech firms argue that such protection has provided incentives to produce Covid vaccines in record times. Many developing countries have argued that rules requiring countries to protect patents and other forms of intellectual property are an obstacle to increasing the production of vaccines and other products needed to tackle the pandemic. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, called the US decision “historic” and said it marked “a monumental moment in the fight against Covid-19”. The medical NGO, MSF – Doctors Without Borders – said the move would “increase sufficient and timely access to these lifesaving medical tools as Covid-19 continues to ravage countries across the globe.”..

The New York Times – “Biden’s Support for Vaccine Patent Waivers Faces Uphill Effort in Europe. The European Union said it was considering the proposal but did not endorse it. Germany said that the move could undermine the production of vaccines, deterring E.U. consideration of the plan…”

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