European leaders on Friday protested growing suspicions that the U.S. proposal to patent protective cotton for the COVID-19 vaccine would solve the problem of people in poor countries firing on weapons, with some calling for more doses to be exported instead.
Leaders and humanitarian groups have encouraged the Beadon administration’s decision and called on others to follow suit, with EU leaders acknowledging the message that any benefits that come with a temporary waiver to protect intellectual property would be long-lasting.
Instead, they have worked with the United States, in particular, to ensure that more vaccines are not shared with other parts of the world.
“You can give intellectual property to laboratories that don’t know how to produce it. They will not produce it tomorrow, “said French President Emmanuel Macron at a summit in Portugal, although he would agree to waive the protection.
EU officials insisted that rewriting the rules at the World Trade Organization could take months or even years, and said they had found a few examples, if any, that intellectual property issues were holding back vaccines.
Proponents of the patent waiver have argued that it would increase the supply to more factories around the world to make shots, especially in poorer countries. The decision ultimately depends on the 1 W4 member WTO, and the idea will fail if only one country votes against a waiver.
Macron said the key issues are donations and exports, an argument in favor of the pharmaceutical industry as well, and he said America should do more on this front.
The United States does not have an export ban on vaccines, nor does it ban the export of ingredients for shots.
However, the federal government regulates the millions of doses produced in the country under the terms of contracts with drug manufacturers, and is in the first place for some raw materials produced by US suppliers.
The United States has shipped about four million doses of the vaccine from its AstraZeneca stockpile to Canada and Mexico, which has not yet applied to the United States for approval, and plans to begin exporting 10,000 million doses next month.
Last week, the United States redirected some of the raw materials used for astrageneca to India as part of relief efforts for the affected country.
But Macron is proud that about half the dose – or about 200 million – produced in the EU – has been allowed to be exported.
“We are the most liberal of the developed countries in the world,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Jane Sasaki told reporters on Friday that the United States would “work with international partners, including pharmaceutical companies, to continue to supply the world community as much as possible.”
WTO Director-General Engoji Okonzo-Ewela echoed some sentiments expressed by European leaders at a virtual conference on Friday, saying patent protection could help improve access to vaccines but could be the most “critical issue” in expanding vaccine production. .
Other important steps include easing restrictions on exports of both vaccines and the ingredients needed to make them, sharing knowledge behind the shots, training production workers and increasing global production capacity.
Meanwhile, a study by Germany, a powerful biotech and pharmaceutical sector, has spoken out against the waiver of power house protection and called for more exports.
“The issue is not the patent issue. The key issue is the question of production capacity, “said German Health Minister Jens Spain, adding that the development of vaccines such as those produced by the German company Bionetech – and with the help of Pfizer – is extremely complex.
Instead, he stressed that developed countries should export more shots as vaccination campaigns go well.
“We will export a lot more,” he said. “I can only welcome it when America changes their policy and provides a dose of vaccine for another country.”
Fatima Hassan, a human rights lawyer and director of the South African Health Justice Initiative, welcomed the Biden administration’s announcement but said it was “eight months too late”.
“We basically can’t wait a few months for this waiver to be finalized,” he said.
Hassan said countries that have “over-ordered” vaccines are “ending smaller and the lower-income sections of the world will be able to access these vaccines.”