Activists cheered, Big Pharma complained, and government leaders assessed the next steps after the Biden administration’s blockbuster move to support an easing of patent and other
By JAMEY KEATEN Associated Press
May 6, 2021, 9:18 AM
• 4 min read
GENEVA — Activists cheered, Big Pharma complained, and government leaders assessed the next steps on Thursday after the Biden administration’s blockbuster move to support an easing of patent and other protections onget more doses and speed the end of the pandemic. The move to support waiving intellectual property under World Trade Organization rules marked a dramatic shift for the United States, which had previously lined up with many other developed nations opposed to the idea floated by India and South Africa.
Attention is set to turn to those more prosperous nations, notably in the, to see whether they will come on board. A key hurdle: Any decision at the WTO, a Geneva-based trade body, has to be by consensus — meaning that any single country could hold up any waiver. The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the 27-nation bloc was ready to discuss the U.S. proposal — but cagily remained noncommittal for now. “We are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for waiver on intellectual property protection for could help” end the crisis, she said in a video address. “In the short run, however, we call upon all vaccine-producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures that disrupt supply chains.”
That echoed the position of the global pharmaceutical industry, which insists a faster solution would be for wealthy countries that have supply chains and a scarcity of ingredients that go into vaccines are the more pressing issues for now. “A waiver is the simple but the wrong answer to a complex problem,” said the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. “Waiving patents of will not increase production nor provide practical solutions needed to battle this global health crisis.”them with poorer ones. The industry insists thatproducingf is complicated and can’t be ramped up by easing intellectual property protections. Instead, it insists that reducing bottlenecks in
The industry also says an IP waiver will do more harm than good in the long run by reducing the incentives that push innovators to make tremendous leaps, as they did with the vaccines churned out at a blistering, unprecedented speed to help. But civil society, progressive groups, and international institutions were euphoric about the new stance, which marks a nearly complete reversal in U.S. policy under the that was critical of both the WTO and the World Health Organization.
“A waiver of patents for #COVID19 vaccines & medicines could change the game for Africa, unlocking South Africa, India & the United States, & urge others to back them,” WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti tweeted. Doctors Without Borders, an advocacy health workers to countries in need, said many low-income countries where it operates have only received 0.3% of the global supply of coronavirus vaccines.& saving countless lives. We commend the leadership shown by
“MSF applauds the U.S. government’s bold decision to support the waiving of intellectual property onduring this time of unprecedented global need,” said Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF-USA. She said any waiver should apply not just to vaccines but other medical tools for COVID-19, including . Associated Press writers Raf Casert in Brussels and Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report. Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine.