EU doubtful of U.S. plan to waive IP rights

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

JOSE COELHO | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – European leaders have doubts that surrendering intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, a recent US-backed proposal, is the way to go.

Instead, they criticized the US for not exporting Covid recordings.

“It’s not really about intellectual property rights. You can give the intellectual property to laboratories that don’t know how to make it (the vaccine) and they won’t be able to make it overnight,” said French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters on Friday ahead of a European meeting, according to CNBC translation.

In the meantime, Chancellor Angela Merkel also said: “I have already made it clear here that I do not believe that the release of patents is the solution to provide more people with vaccines.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday welcomed the US decision to support the vaccination patent exemption.

“It’s a good initiative, but I don’t think it’s enough,” he said in Porto, Portugal, while advocating expansion of production and distribution.

President Joe Biden surprised his European counterparts last week by announcing that the US government is in favor of abolishing intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines, citing the “exceptional circumstances” of the pandemic.

Health professionals, human rights groups and international medical charities believe that renouncing intellectual property rights is essential to urgently address the global vaccine shortage amid the pandemic and ultimately avoid prolongation of the health crisis. However, vaccine makers say this could disrupt the flow of raw materials while reducing investment by smaller biotech innovators in health research.

Today, 100% of vaccines made in the United States go to the American market.

Emmanuel Macron

French President

India and South Africa first submitted a joint proposal to the World Trade Organization in October to renounce intellectual property rights in Covid vaccines. Known as the TRIPS waiver, the proposal has been blocked by a handful of high-income nations such as the UK, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Canada, Australia, Brazil, the EU and – until last week – the US

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

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

The U.S. doesn’t have an outright export ban on Covid shots, but it does use laws to ensure that country-made vaccines are only shipped overseas if it is determined that there are sufficient doses to vaccinate the American people.

The latest data from the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, shows that of the 400 million cans so far made in the block, 200 million have been exported to 90 different countries.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said that exporting vaccines “is currently the best way to address short-term shortages and shortages of vaccines around the world”.

“We should be open to this discussion. We should also look closely at the role of licensing, for example. These are important issues that need to be discussed. However, we should be aware of the fact that these are long-term issues.” “said von der Leyen during a speech on Saturday.

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