The US government has supported the plan to temporarily suspend the intellectual property rights on the Covid-19 vaccines as a measure to boost the supply of vaccines in developing countries.
The president of the United States, Biden, supported the calls for temporarily suspending the rules for the production of Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to meet the growing demands. In this regard, the chief trade negotiator of Biden, Katherine Tai, argued that the growing nature of pandemic demands extraordinary action.
Katherine Tai said that though the US administration strongly believes in IP protection, it would endorse the temporary suspension of the rules related to Covid-19 vaccines. In a statement, Tai said, “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.”
The United States had been a major supporter at the World Trade Organization over the proposal to waive off the intellectual property protections on the economic body. It could provide access to the drug makers worldwide over the trade secrets on how the vaccines have been made. They would be allowed to “copycat” the Covid vaccines without any fear of getting sued for infringement of intellectual property.
As a result of this announcement, the shares of the major producers of the Covid-19 vaccine were remarkably hit. After this huge announcement, Novax, Moderna, and BioNTech closed down between 3% and 6% in New York.
The valuable measure to allow countries across the globe to override patent rights on a temporary basis for products related to the pandemic was proposed by India and South Africa in October at the World Trade Organization, and this proposal has been backed by around 60 countries since then.
This proposal was firmly opposed by the Donald Trump administration along with Switzerland, the EU, and the UK. However, Tai had rattled the pharmaceutical companies in the US by putting the proposal under review.
In this regard, Tai said that the United States would actively be a part of the process of negotiating at the World Trade Organization to work out the text of the suspension. However, these discussions would take some time due to the complexity of the problems involved in the process.
Tai said, “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 distributions.”
She further added, “It will work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines.”
The director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Lori Wallach, welcomed the news and requested the Biden administration to come up with “the fastest possible agreement” related to the waiver.
Wallach said, “By fighting for the rest of the world to have access to vaccines like we have here, the Biden administration is recognizing that ‘no one is safe until we are all vaccinated’ is more than a slogan.”
The support by the Biden administration and temporary suspension of the patent of the Covid-19 vaccine could be a major game-changer in the world’s fight against this unprecedented pandemic.
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