May 6 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday supported waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, bowing to mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries, but angering pharmaceutical companies.
Following are reactions to the latest developments.
GAVI, THE GLOBAL VACCINE ALLIANCE
“We recognise also the significance of the (Biden) administration’s commitment to work towards increasing raw material production which will have an immediate impact on alleviating current global supply constraints.
“Gavi urges now that in the interests of global equitable access the US supports manufacturers to transfer not only IP but also know-how in a bid to urgently boost global production.”
THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURERS & ASSOCIATIONS (IFPMA)
“Waiving patents of COVID-19 vaccines will not increase production nor provide practical solutions needed to battle this global health crisis. On the contrary, it is likely to lead to disruption.
“The only way to ensure quick scaling up of and equitable vaccine access to all those in need remains pragmatic and constructive dialogue with the private sector.”
SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT
“President (Cyril) Ramaphosa welcomes the position adopted by the United States as an important reinforcement of a campaign led by South Africa and India on behalf of emerging economies that face vaccine shortages and production challenges.
“The anticipated temporary waiver provides a global response to COVID-19. The proposal establishes a global solution to enhance manufacturing and boost supply capacity, and enables coordination and access to information currently under patent protection.
“For countries that do not currently have manufacturing capacity on certain medical technologies, the waiver could open up more supply options and avoid countries being reliant on only one or two suppliers. Where supply capacity currently exists, it can be repurposed to COVID vaccine production and in this way improve the supply available to all nations.”
AUSTRALIAN TRADE MINISTER DAN TEHAN
“We welcome this positive development and look forward to working with the U.S. and others to find solutions that boost the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Close collaboration between governments and vaccine manufacturers will remain vital.”
NEW ZEALAND TRADE MINISTER DAMIEN O’CONNOR
“New Zealand supports the waiver of IP protections on vaccines as an important part of our collective efforts to address the human catastrophe of the pandemic.
“We are also working in APEC, the WTO and other fora to address other elements of vaccine supply issues including through the supply chains that are limiting the availability of vaccines regionally and globally.”
ITALIAN MINISTRY OF HEALTH ROBERTO SPERANZA
“Biden’s breakthrough on free access to vaccine patents for all is an important step forward. Europe must also play its part. This pandemic has taught us that we can only win together.”
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
“It is crucial that the waiver not just apply to preventative vaccines, but it should also cover other medical tools for COVID-19, including treatments for people who fall ill and diagnostics to help curb the spread, as originally proposed seven months ago.
“While this decision means other manufacturers will have the information they need from pharmaceutical corporations – and the legal permission – to help scale up global supply and get more shots into the arms of people everywhere, this won’t happen immediately.
“For the remaining countries that continue to oppose the WTO waiver…, they must drop their objections and put people’s health before pharmaceutical profits, and waive IP on all COVID-19 medical tools, including vaccines.”
OXFAM HEALTH POLICY MANAGER ANNA MARRIOTT
“In this moment of crisis, we applaud the decision of President Biden and his administration to pursue a new path that prioritizes public health over private profits.
“This is a testament to the widespread public movement calling for an end to vaccine monopolies.
“We are at a crucial point in the fight against coronavirus, yet we have remained essentially at the mercy of a handful of giant pharmaceutical corporations that have monopoly control over the life-saving technologies we all need. The UK shouldn’t be left standing on the wrong side of history and must join the U.S. in doing the right thing for humanity.
“We will now look to the White House for leadership in a strong WTO outcome, in urgently insisting on the transfer of technologies through the World Health Organization COVID-19 Technology Access pool, and in investing strategically to build up regional vaccine hubs to defeat this and future pandemics.”
GORDON BROWN, U.N. GLOBAL AMBASSADOR AND FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER
“I welcome the American decision on temporary patent waiver which makes the COVID-19 vaccine accessible. Now we must make the vaccine affordable. No one is safe until everyone is safe and on June 11, at the G7 meeting, the richest countries should make the momentous decision to pay two thirds of the $60 billion cost of vaccinating the world.” (Reporting by Reuters staff; Editing by Nick Macfie and Mark Heinrich)
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