Lifting of patents on vaccines: the EU “ready to discuss” and Emmanuel Macron “completely in favor”


These statements follow the United States’ proposal on Wednesday to lift intellectual property protections on anti-covid vaccines.

The United States supports the lifting of intellectual property protections for vaccines against Covid-19, in order to accelerate the production and distribution of precious serums around the world, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday (May 5). “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures”US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement. This Thursday morning, the European Union, for its part, said “ready to discuss“Of this proposal and Emmanuel Macron,”quite favorable“.

“The administration firmly believes in intellectual property protections, but to put an end to this pandemic, it supports the lifting of these protections for vaccines against Covid-19”, justified Katherine Tai, specifying that Washington participated “Actively” negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow the lifting of these patents.

Washington stressed on Wednesday the urgency to “To provide the most safe and effective vaccines to the greatest number”. Because the divide is widening between the poor and struggling nations and the rich countries, where vaccination campaigns allow a gradual lifting of health restrictions. The temporary lifting of patents on vaccines is notably demanded by India and South Africa, in order to be able to speed up production, but certain countries, including France, are opposed to it. Paris rather pleads for donations in favor of poor countries.

Globally opposed laboratories

For the time being, patents are held mainly by American laboratories which are generally opposed to their lifting because it would deprive them, according to them, of a financial windfall for costly innovations. Solicited by AFP, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna did not react to the American announcement. But the International Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry (IFPMA) described in a statement “Disappointing” the American decision. Stephen Ubl, President of the American Federation (PhRMA), stressed that this decision could “Further weaken already strained supply chains and encourage the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines”. Rather, he said, we need to tackle the issue of distribution and availability. “Limited” raw material.

Reaction of the European Union

Responding to Katherine Tai, the European Union said “Ready to discuss” of the US proposal to lift intellectual property protections on Covid vaccines, in order to speed up production and distribution, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday. “The EU is ready to discuss any proposal that would tackle the crisis in an effective and pragmatic way. We are ready to discuss how the US proposal can achieve this goal.», Indicated the President of the Commission.

She called “immediately»All vaccine producing countries«to authorize exports“. A spike in the United Kingdom, which de facto has not exported any dose manufactured on its soil, and especially in the United States, where a presidential decision strictly blocks the export of vaccines and restricts that of vaccine components. Conversely, “the EU exports to more than 90 countries“, From Japan to Colombia via Mexico, which makes it”the world’s pharmacy“And”the only democratic region to export on a large scaleShe said.

Until now, the EU has not said it is in favor, arguing that this solution would take time, due to the lack of immediately mobilizable means of production. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Ursula von der Leyen had also admitted “not be at all in favor of the lifting of patents“, Believing that the development of vaccines was the work of private companies and that”the ingenuity of the private sector should be retained“. But Brussels had recently seemed to open the door.

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