US President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday (local time) announced its support for a global waiver on patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines and said it will negotiate the terms at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). “These extraordinary times and circumstances of call for extraordinary measures. The US supports the waiver of IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic and we’ll actively participate in @WTO negotiations to make that happen,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a tweet.
This comes as India, South Africa, and other nations had requested to waive certain portions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for all members of the WTO.
The requested waiver was to provide many people with possible access to vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, including in developing countries.
In a statement, the US administration said that it believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
“We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the WTO needed to make that happen. Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved,” it added.
On vaccine manufacturing and distribution, the US Trade Representative said: “The administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible. As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the administration will continue to ramp up its efforts- working with the private sector and all possible partners – to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines.”
The Biden administration was facing pressure from the international community, drug pricing advocates and congressional Democrats to back a move that would temporarily waive the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS), that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets. (ANI)