EU doubts US plan to give up intellectual property rights


French President Emmanuel Macron gives a press conference during the European Social Summit organized by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the Palacio de Cristal in Porto.

JOSE COELHO | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – EU leaders doubt that waiving intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines, a proposal recently supported by the United States, is the way forward.

Instead, they criticized the United States for not exporting Covid plans.

“It’s not really a matter of intellectual property rights. You can give the intellectual property to labs that don’t know how to produce (the vaccine) and they won’t be able to produce it overnight,” he told the press French President Emmanuel Macron. Friday before a European meeting, according to CNBC Translation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “I have already made it clear here that I do not believe that patent release is the solution to provide vaccines to more people.”

However, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday welcomed the United States’ decision to support patent waivers on vaccines.

“It’s a good initiative, but I don’t think it’s enough,” he said in Porto, Portugal, while pleading for an increase in production and distribution.

President Joe Biden surprised his European counterparts last week by announcing that the US administration was in favor of lifting intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” of the pandemic.

Health experts, human rights groups and international medical charities say relinquishing intellectual property rights is critical to urgently tackle the global vaccine shortage amid the crisis. pandemic and ultimately avoid prolonging the health crisis. Vaccine makers, however, say this could disrupt the flow of raw materials, while also leading to less investment in health research from smaller biotechnology innovators.

Today, 100% of vaccines produced in the United States of America are destined for the American market.

Emmanuel Macron

President of France

India and South Africa initially submitted a joint proposal to the World Trade Organization in October to waive intellectual property rights to Covid vaccines. The proposal, known as the TRIPS waiver, has been blocked by some high-income countries, such as the UK, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Canada, Australia, Brazil, EU and – until last week – the United States.

Macron insisted that the best way to increase global vaccination rates is for vaccine-producing countries to step up their exports.

“Today the Anglo-Saxons block a lot of these ingredients and vaccines. Today, 100% of vaccines produced in the United States of America go to the American market,” he said, while adding that Europeans “are the most generous”. on this front.

The United States does not have an outright ban on Covid vaccine exports, but it uses the legislation to ensure that domestically produced vaccines are only sent overseas when it is established that there is doses sufficient to inoculate the American population.

The latest data from the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, shows that of the 400 million doses produced in the block to date, 200 million have been exported to 90 countries.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also said that exporting vaccines “is the best way at the moment, in the short term, to tackle the bottlenecks and the lack of vaccines in the world. “.

“We need to be open to this discussion. We should also, for example, take a close look at the role of licenses. These are important topics to discuss. But we need to be aware that these are long-term topics,” a said von der Leyen on Saturday.

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