On Wednesday, the Biden government joined calls for additional sharing of the technology behind coronavirus vaccines to help end the pandemic more quickly, a shift that puts America along with many other countries in the developing world who want rich nations to do more to get doses to the needy ones.
Katherine Tai, the Trade Representative of the United States, announced the position of the administration because of the Word Trade Organization (WTO) discussions about a likely provisional waiver of its safeties that would allow producers to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccines.
NEW: The United States will support waiving intellectual property protections for #COVID19 vaccines — a critical step toward ensuring the world can produce enough vaccines to protect all people.
The only way global pandemics end is with global cooperation and mutual aid. https://t.co/JxEap4kT0r
— Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) May 5, 2021
Tai stated that the government strongly believes in intellectual property rules and protections, but in service of ending the deadly outbreak, backs the waiver of those protections for coronavirus vaccines. Additionally, she advised that it would take some time to reach the essential agreement of the world to waive the protection under World Trade Organization rules, and American officials said it wouldn’t have an instant effect on the supply of coronavirus jabs globally.
The announcement from the trade representative came few hours after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of WTO, spoke to ambassadors meeting behind closed doors from developed and developing nations that are struggling over the matter but settle on the need for broader access to coronavirus treatments.
More Than 100 Countries Supported the Proposal of India and South Africa
Moreover, the General Council of WTO took up a provisional waiver for intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines and other tools, which India and South Africa initially proposed in October 2020. However, some progressive representatives in the West endorsed the idea.
Over hundred countries showed their support for the proposal, and a group of hundred and ten Democratic members of Congress sent him an open letter last month that called on Biden to support the waiver. On the other hand, the opponents from the industry said that a release would be no solution. Whereas they insisted that the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines is complex. So, it can’t ramp up by enabling intellectual property. The critics also said removing protections might hurt future innovation.
CEO and president of the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Stephen Ubl, said that the American decision would propagate confusion between private and public partners. It also weakens previously tensed supply chains of vaccines and substitute the propagation of fake vaccines.
Chief Executive of Biotechnology Innovation Organization trade group, Dr. Michelle McMurry-Health, stated that the decision would weaken incentives to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for any other future pandemics. Further, she adds that handing over the vaccine to needy countries a recipe book without safeguards, ingredients, and sizeable staff required will not help individuals waiting for the vaccine.