G20 leaders commit to ‘patent-pooling’ for COVID-19 vaccines: report
Leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) are expected to commit to “patent-pooling” for COVID-19 vaccines, bucking the World Health Organization’s call for a waiver on patent rights, Reuters reports.
According to a draft document seen by the news outlet, the leaders will back “voluntary licensing” of vaccine patents. The news outlet reported that it was the result of a compromise among experts from the various nations.
A patent pool would allow drugmakers to voluntarily share licenses for manufacturing their products.
The leaders will commit to “voluntary licensing, technology and knowledge transfer, and patent-pooling,” according to Reuters.
The document is expected to be adopted at a G20 Health Summit on Friday hosted by Italy, according to Reuters. Italy holds the G20 presidency this year, and summit will take place at the Villa Pamphilj in Rome.
The move comes amid a push for lower-income countries to get access to vaccine doses as wealthier nations build stockpiles.
The United States said earlier this month it would support a proposal to waive international patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said at the time that the “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.”
Supporters say waiver would make the details of vaccine production more widely available and let lower-income countries make vaccine doses themselves rather than relying on other nations to supply them.
But the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil and Canada have opposed the measure. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that while such waiver could help in the long term, wealthier countries should ramp up their exports of the vaccines they’re producing.
The precise language of a waiver is still being negotiated by the World Trade Organization. Tai said earlier this month that the U.S. is participating in the negotiations, while von der Leyen said she would be open to discussions.