Biden backs waiver of COVID vaccine patents to help struggling countries vaccinate

Pharmaceutical companies oppose the international effort.
COVID vaccine

The Biden administration says it will back a temporary waiver of intellectual property provisions to help developing nations produce COVID-19 vaccines faster during the pandemic.

"The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines," U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

By waiving the protections, developing countries can make their own version of COVID-19 vaccines produced by larger companies.

The European Union has yet to commit to the effort, which includes international advocacy groups, India and South Africa, while pharmaceutical companies oppose it.

"We are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for waiver on intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines could help," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday in a video address. "In the short run, however, we call upon all vaccine producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures that disrupt supply chains."

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations says the waiver was a simple but wrong solution to the virus, arguing it will not increase vaccine production, according to The Associated Press,

The World Trade Organization must now decide on whether to approve a waiver, which requires unanimous approval from member states.