Story at a glance:
- The U.S. now supports the World Trade Organization's effort to lift patents on coronavirus vaccines.
- France is also onboard, but other countries will have to follow suit to make it work.
- Critics say the patents create financial rewards and removing them does not solve the global vaccine shortage problem.
There is a lot of pressure in the U.S. and abroad to waive COVID-19 patents, share intellectual property information and create a unified vaccine internationally, which the U.S. has now thrown its support behind.
After pressure from his fellow Democrats, President Biden is opening up the conversations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
World leaders are in talks about waiving coronavirus vaccine patents, a move that will certainly anger some pharmaceutical companies, The BBC reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “absolutely in favor” of joining a U.S.-backed proposal.
The Biden administration also said it needs to persuade other countries that it should lead the effort in creating a unified vaccine, admitting the negotiations at the WTO and World Health Organization requires patience.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday that “this is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” The Guardian reported.
Although some people say the waiver decision would be necessary to increase global production of the vaccine, critics within the industry say it cripples financial opportunities and lowers competition to make the best products available.
The president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Thomas Cueni, told the BBC the real issues are not being addressed.
Cueni said that technology should not be shared nor should a waiver because companies were sharing on a volunteer basis.
"The real bottlenecks are trade barriers preventing companies moving their goods from one country to another, shortage and scarcity in supply chains, and right now the disappointing unwillingness of rich countries to early share doses with poor countries.”
"None of this is addressed with the patent waiver," Cueni added.
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