Support grows for IP waiver on virus vaccines; snags remain – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-05-06 08:50:33 –

GENEVA (AP) — France joined the United States on Thursday to help ease patents and other protections …

Geneva (AP) — France joined the United States on Thursday to help ease patents and other protections for the COVID-19 vaccine. This will allow poor countries to get more vaccines and accelerate the end of the pandemic. Support from two countries with major pharmaceutical companies is important, but many obstacles remain.

The move to support the abandonment of vaccine intellectual property protection under the rules of the World Trade Organization has shown dramatic changes for the United States. We received many cheers from activists, complaints from Big Pharma, and many questions about what would happen next. Washington was previously alongside many other developed nations, in opposition to the ideas emerged by India and South Africa in October.

Currently, attention is focused on these richer countries, especially in the European Union. And France first expressed its support.

“I totally agree with the release of this intellectual property,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on a visit to the Vaccine Center on Thursday.

But he also expressed suspicion that the measure would be a panacea, as pharmaceutical companies do. Even if the patent is abandoned, pharmaceutical companies in places like Africa aren’t currently ready to make the COVID-19 vaccine, so he said dose donations should be prioritized instead.

Another important hurdle remains. Any country could block the decision to agree to an exemption at the WTO, an industry association of 164 member states based in Geneva.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the block of 27 countries was ready to talk about the US proposal, but so far it has remained capriciously uncommitted.

“We are ready to discuss how the US proposal for intellectual property protection of the COVID vaccine will help,” she said in a video address. “But in the short term, we call on all vaccine-producing countries to allow exports and avoid measures that disrupt the supply chain.”

This reflects the position of the global pharmaceutical industry, which claims that rich countries with vaccine stockpiles will begin to share with poor countries, which will be a faster solution.

The industry argues that the production of coronavirus vaccines is complex and cannot be increased by mitigating intellectual property protection. Instead, it reduces supply chain bottlenecks and claims that the lack of components in vaccines is a more pressing issue so far.

“The exemption is simple, but the wrong answer to a complex problem,” said the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers. “Abandoning the COVID-19 vaccine patent does not increase production and does not provide the practical solution needed to combat this global health crisis.”

The industry also benefits from IP exemption in the long run by reducing incentives for innovators to make big leap, like vaccines unleashed at a ferocious, unprecedented speed to help fight COVID. It states that it is more harmful than -19.

Proponents say exemptions are important because they give manufacturers around the world access to recipes and ingredients for making life-saving vaccines. They point out unused capacity — a factory that can cancel vaccines but not for intellectual property protection.

Some critics say developing countries have sought to weaken these protections for years long before the pandemic, waiting for manufacturers who are ready to produce the COVID-19 vaccine. He says it’s not clear that he is. They say that making vaccines currently on the market can be incredibly difficult, and know-how is a greater obstacle to increasing production.

Many experts and advocates have stated that such exemptions need to be followed up by transferring the required technology to developing countries.

Intellectual property expert Siam Barganesh, a professor at Columbia Law School, said the exemption would remove “many bureaucracy” on WTO rules, but other bottles in vaccine manufacturing and distribution. Only so far because of the neck.

In a private WTO talks last month, the EU, UK and Switzerland were “no-go” because changes or weakening of intellectual property rights contributed to increased production of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Geneva trade officials. Said. He did not have the authority to discuss the matter publicly, so he spoke on condition of anonymity.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Christian Eriksen Solide warned last month during a pandemic that “we should look to practical solutions that provide more vaccines.”

After Biden’s announcement, Amnesty International’s EU Executive Director, Eve Geddy, now calls on Europe to “prioritize the health and human rights of all over private interests” and supports the idea of ​​exemption. I did.

“Today, Europe awakens to a new political reality that its position of accumulating the right to produce the COVID-19 vaccine is now unacceptable,” she said.

She was just between civil society, progressive groups and international organizations euphoric about the Biden administration’s stance, which showed an almost complete reversal of US policy under the Trump administration, which was critical of both the WTO and the World Health Organization. It was one voice.

“The waiver of # COVID19 vaccine and drug patents could change the game in Africa, release millions of vaccine doses and save countless lives. We have shown South Africa, India and the United States. We commend leadership and encourage others to support them, “tweeted WHO Africa Chief Matshidiso Moeti.

Over 20 million vaccines have been administered across the African continent, reaching approximately 1.3 billion people.

Gabi, a UN-backed vaccine alliance that co-leads efforts to inject in the countries where it is needed, also welcomed the US decision and commitment to increase the production of raw materials used in vaccines. .. Supply.

Doctors Without Borders is an advocacy group also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres that sends healthcare workers to needy countries, and many low-income countries that do business have the colonavirus. He said he received only 0.3% of the world’s supply of vaccines.

“MSF commends the US Government’s bold decision to support the abandonment of the intellectual property of the COVID-19 vaccine at this time of unprecedented global needs,” said Avril, Executive Director of MSF-USA. Benoit says.

She said the exemption should apply not only to vaccines, but also to other medical tools for COVID-19, including treatment and testing systems for infected individuals.

There is precedent. In 2003, WTO members agreed to waive their patents and allow poor countries to import common treatments for HIV / AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Many want a historic replay to fight COVID-19.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, told reporters: “When the history of this pandemic is written, I believe it remembers the move by the US government to do the right thing at the right time.”


Associated Press writers Raf Casert and Lorne Cook in Brussels, John Leicester in Paris, Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.


Follow the Associated Press pandemic coverage details at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine.

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Support grows for IP waiver on virus vaccines; snags remain Source link Support grows for IP waiver on virus vaccines; snags remain

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