EU ready to discuss waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents

The Nation  |  May 06, 2021

The EU is willing to discuss the proposal to waive patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines, the top EU official said on Thursday.

The EU is “ready to discuss how the US proposal for a waiver on intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines could help” end the crisis, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in a virtual conference organized by the European University Institute.

She said the bloc was open to talk about “any proposals that address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner.”

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s administration supported the idea of lifting intellectual property protection on coronavirus vaccines to accelerate efforts to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

The original proposal for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO) was submitted last year by India and South Africa.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus and WTO head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have welcomed the US commitment, praising the bold move that could go against economic interests of big pharma companies for the greater good.

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Shares of companies producing US- and EU-approved vaccines Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson dropped after Tai’s announcement, while representatives of the pharma industry have expressed disappointment about the initiative.

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