International

EU leaders criticize Biden push to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents: Not a 'magic bullet'

European Union (EU) leaders on Saturday blasted President Biden's decision to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents, arguing the move would not be a "magic bullet."

The leaders voiced their perspectives during the second day of an EU summit in Portugal, according to The Associated Press.

"We don't think, in the short term, that it's the magic bullet," European Council President Charles Michel said while urging the U.S. to consider lifting restrictions on exports in order to have more of a global impact on the pandemic, the AP reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron also reportedly pushed back, arguing that prioritizing a discussion of intellectual property rights now when it comes to the pandemic "is a false debate."

Both leaders agreed that Biden should instead increase the United States's export of COVID-19 vaccines to help curb the virus globally.

"First of all, you must open up," Macron said, according to the AP. "In the United States, in the United Kingdom, 100 percent of what has been produced has been used in the domestic market."

He also added that "the Anglo-Saxons must stop their bans on exports."

"We encourage all the partners to facilitate the export of [vaccine] doses," Michel said.

Both Macron and Michel echoed the sentiments of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said Friday she would like to see the U.S. and other wealthy countries expand their vaccine exports.

"We invite all those who engage in the debate of a waiver for [intellectual property] rights also to join us to commit to be willing to export a large share of what is being produced in that region," she said.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced its support for waiving international patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, which would allow details of vaccine production to be shared with lower-income countries so that they could then make doses themselves.

The pharmaceutical industry has opposed the waiver idea, saying it would hurt their ability to produce large numbers of vaccine doses as needed and stifle innovation. 

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