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Is the export of Covid vaccines banned in the United States?

Is there an export ban on coronavirus vaccines in the United States?

There are no formal export bans on vaccines or vaccine components such as syringes, vials and filters. Items needed by vaccine manufacturers or jab makers elsewhere in the world are free to export.

However, Washington used wartime power known as the Defense Production Act to force private companies to fulfill their contracts before any other order. This has led manufacturers elsewhere in the world, such as the Serum Institute in India, to complain that they cannot buy goods that are normally imported from the United States. According to the OECD, the United States is usually the world’s largest exporter of syringes and needles.

US authorities are advocating the use of DPA. “Making a vaccine requires a large amount of special material, which is not enough to avoid it,” a government official said this week. “Around the world, there is more global manufacturing than our suppliers can currently support.”

Apart from this, the United States has a large stockpile of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine doses purchased early in the development process. Until recently, it rejected requests from other countries to share those jabs.

So why did the United States export so small doses?

The Joe Biden administration said it would not send the vaccine to other parts of the world until it was fully supplied in the United States, with the focus being on being shot by US weapons.

Biden said in a speech to Congress on Wednesday: “Like America is the arsenal of democracy in the world, we are the arsenal of vaccines in other countries.”[But]Before that, it will be accessible to all Americans. “

As supply increases, the government is under pressure to share some of the stockpile of AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been approved, especially in the United States. However, some administrations are worried that higher doses may be needed in the future to fight new strains or provide annual booster shots.

What is the impact of the Defense Production Act?

DPA has been used dozens of times to give manufacturers priority on the medical devices they need to fight a pandemic. N95 masks, gowns, syringes and vials are all sourced under DPA terms, allowing the government to decide which domestic contract to fulfill first.

One of the consequences is that pharmaceutical companies have diverted the equipment normally used to make certain medicines to hospitals to make equipment and medicines to fight Covid-19, resulting in a shortage of certain medicines later this year. I warned you to expect it.

However, the DPA does not allow the government to block exports abroad, and authorities find it difficult for foreign vaccine makers to procure raw materials simply because global demand is very high. He said he felt. As a result, the Biden administration said this week it would send its own supplies to India to make a vaccine for AstraZeneca.

Is there anything to stop shipping finished doses owned by the Biden administration abroad?

Industry officials and government officials said a clause was inserted into the original contract signed between the Donald Trump administration and the vaccine maker, banning the export of government-owned doses. Authorities said pharmaceutical companies wanted this clause to protect them from the possibility of proceedings from foreigners claiming that US-made doses made them sick.

“Even the president can’t export them without making pharmaceutical companies liable when they leave the country,” said Paul Mango, a former deputy director of health during the Trump administration. It was.

Biden officials do not say how they overcame this legal hurdle when they agreed to export AstraZeneca’s vaccine 4 million times to Canada and Mexico and 60 million times to other countries. Hmm. But the answer may lie in complex arrangements in both Canada and Mexico. There, doses are technically “loaned” based on the fact that both countries later return the doses made in their own country.

Will the Biden administration agree to suspend vaccine patents?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal at the World Trade Organization in Geneva to allow the state to temporarily revoke patents on pandemic-related medical products. Since then, this proposal has been endorsed by 60 countries.

The Trump administration, along with the UK, EU and Switzerland, has firmly opposed the waiver of intellectual property rights, but Biden’s chief trade officer, Katherine Tai, appears to be considering the position of a U.S. pharmaceutical company. I pretended to be.

Her office told the WTO that the agency was “exploring every path” and “assessing its effectiveness” of the exemption, and Thailand told the WTO “how the market failed to meet health needs again.” I’m interested in hearing more. ” Developing countries “.

Proponents of the trade-related aspect of intellectual property rights, or the abandonment of the WTO’s IP rules, known as trips, fear that more developing countries will be sued by suspending the rules. IP breaches that said it would allow you to make your own copy of the vaccine without.

However, pharmaceutical companies strongly oppose such exemptions, claiming that the lack of available manufacturing capacity is causing bottlenecks rather than intellectual property protection.

Is this enough?

Experts warn that even if the exemption is granted, it will take more time to ensure that there are sufficient vaccines in other parts of the world. Many people are looking for manufacturers of mRNA vaccines, especially to help establish overseas manufacturing centers, given that their technology seems to be the best at tackling new mutants.

“In order for mRNA vaccines to work elsewhere, we need to establish a vaccine manufacturing hub with technology transfer,” said Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “MRNA vaccines are less susceptible to production delays, mutants are much easier to tune, are probably safer and more effective, and production can start faster. You need to do that today. There is. “

Is the export of Covid vaccines banned in the United States?

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