US says it will push for COVID vaccine waivers, but ‘may take time’

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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, May 12, 2021. Pete Marovich / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

The Biden administration has pledged to work to relinquish intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines and will raise the issue with the World Trade Organization (WTO), but that could take time, said Thursday. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

“We will actively participate in the textual negotiations at the WTO that will be necessary to make this happen. And it may take time given the complexity of the issues involved, but our goal remains to get vaccines to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. “Tai said in remarks at an AFL-CIO union event.

US President Joe Biden last month backed a proposed patent waiver for vaccines targeting the novel coronavirus that advocates say could help increase availability amid the pandemic.

But the pharmaceutical industry has opposed the waiver of the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), saying it would stifle innovation and do little to help. effectively increase vaccine supplies which she says are hampered by trade and manufacturing barriers.

Tai defended the administration’s support, saying “extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures”. In the meantime, “we are doing all we can to increase vaccine production capacity as quickly as possible,” she added.

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