Angela Merkel has rejected a US move to patent the vaccine

Angela Merkel has expressed opposition to the Biden administration’s proposal Intellectual property rights suspended For the Covid-19 vaccine, it is said to be “seriously involved” in global vaccine production.

The German chancellor said the reasons for the limited supply of vaccines were “production capacity and high quality, not patents”.

“Intellectual property protection is a source of innovation and it must remain so in the future,” he added.

Merkel responded to Katherine Taye, top trade adviser to President Joe Biden, saying that the United States “strongly believes” in IP protections, but would support a waiver of these rules. Covid-19 vaccines.

The waiver allows any drug manufacturer in the world to develop a “copyright” vaccine without fear of being sued for intellectual property rights violations.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary situation with the Covid-19 epidemic calls for extraordinary action,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The United States will “actively” participate in negotiations with the World Trade Organization to hammer the text of a waiver, he added, noting that these talks will take time due to the complexity of the issues involved.

Washington’s proposal has left the EU behind. In recent months, the bloc has resisted pressure from India and South Africa, led by the WTO, to grant a patent waiver for the vaccine.

The U.S. move has received a cool response from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. He said the EU was “ready to discuss” how the proposal could help address the current crisis in an effective and pragmatic way.

He emphasized, however, that the priority was to remove barriers to the export of vaccine-producing countries and to address barriers to the supply chain.

Von der Lane, in contrast to the EU approach, like some allies: “Europe is the only democracy in the world that exports vaccines on a large scale.” The United States, a large vaccine-producing country, has saved most of its domestic jobs for domestic use.

The U.S. proposal received a more positive response from Vladimir Putin, who said that Russia, the maker of the Sputnik V vaccine, would support the move. “An epidemic is an emergency. . . “There is no doubt that Russia will support this approach,” he said.

“We hope to hold active and constructive talks with all parties under the WTO framework to reach an effective and just agreement,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was concerned about the idea of ​​waiving IP rights, but “the reality is that there are no barriers or prices today.”

“You can transfer intellectual property to pharma companies in Africa but they don’t have a platform to give mRNA vaccines,” he said.

The idea of ​​a waiver has also been opposed by Bioentech, the first messenger RNA-based vaccine to come on the market in a joint venture with Pfizer. The agency said it would not reduce the current supply deficit and warned manufacturers without inexperience of mRNA about the risk of opening production.

“With Pfizer, we are working with a variety of organizations to deliver vaccines to people around the world. “We will continue to supply our vaccines to low- and middle-income countries at a non-profit price,” Bioentech said in a statement on Thursday.

“However, patents are not a limiting factor in our production or supply of vaccines. . . The mRNA production process is a complex process that has evolved over more than a decade.

Moderna chief executive Stephen Bansel said vaccine makers could expand their capabilities before making a real difference in the supply of any new players.

“If you want to start today, you have to start with hiring people. The vaccines did not fall from the sky at the FT US Pharma and Biotech Summit on Thursday, “Vansel said.” There is no mRNA industry here.

Matthias Kromayer, general partner at venture capital firm MIG, one of Bioentech’s early investors, said the patent waiver would discourage future investment in the sector.

“If the United States / EU / WHO suspends patent protection, they will lose a lot in the long run – that is, the willingness of private investors to invest in such companies, many years before it becomes clear whether their technology will succeed,” he said.

“This means the collapse of an entire industry that has just been shown to be the only one that can provide a sustainable solution to the global medical, economic and social crisis. This innovative energy will not exist in the future without private investors – what do we do then? ”

During an interview at the FT US Pharma and Biotech Summit on Thursday, Bristol Myers described the US government’s support for the waiver as “extremely important”.

“We rely on intellectual property protection to invest in industrial research and development and to make the necessary investments to address crises such as benefits,” said Giovanni Caferio. “Improvements over the last 24 hours are highly relevant and disappointing.”

In addition to being important during the coronavirus crisis, Coferio said IP protection is “as important as investing in BMS cancer care in some cases requiring higher treatment”.

Additional report by Laila Abdou in Paris

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