Story at a glance
- A group of House Democrats wrote a letter to the White House Tuesday urging President Biden to temporarily waive vaccine patents to ensure global vaccine equity.
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who drafted the letter, asked the president to reverse the “damage done by the Trump Administration” to the U.S.’s “global reputation” and “restore America’s public health leadership on the world stage.”
- The letter was signed by 109 Democratic lawmakers.
A group of House Democrats wrote a letter to the White House Tuesday urging President Biden to temporarily waive vaccine patents to ensure global vaccine equity.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who drafted the letter, asked the president to reverse the “damage done by the Trump Administration” to the U.S. reputation and “restore America’s public health leadership on the world stage.”
“To bring the pandemic to its quickest end and save the lives of Americans and people around the world, we ask that you reverse the Trump position and announce U.S. support for the [World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property] waiver,” lawmakers said.
“Simply put, we must make vaccines, testing, and treatments available everywhere if we are going to crush the virus anywhere,” they added.
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The letter was signed by 109 Democratic lawmakers, including 71 out of 92 members of the House progressive caucus, The Huffington Post reported.
The TRIPS waiver, which is supported by 100 nations, would allow countries to manufacture vaccines and other treatments by temporarily removing intellectual property barriers. A group of former world leaders and Nobel laureates pleaded with Biden last month to consider the waiver.
World Health Organization (WHO) leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized global vaccine inequities in April on the anniversary of WHO’s vaccine sharing plan.
“Nearly 900 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 81% have gone to high- or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.3%,” Tedros said.
Lawmakers said in the letter that the inequalities will persist without cooperation and sharing between nations. Some countries might have to wait until 2024 for vaccines, they added.
“Unless countries cooperate and share medical technology, there simply will not be sufficient supply of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for many countries – particularly developing countries – to effectively fight COVID-19,” the lawmakers write.
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