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Top U.S. trade negotiator discusses vaccine ramp-up with Novavax exec -USTR

PUBLISHED: Tue, 27 Apr 2021 23:45:06 GMT

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WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed increasing COVID-19 vaccine production in a virtual meeting on Tuesday with an executive with drugmaker Novavax, Tai’s office said in a statement.

Tai and Novavax Executive Vice President John Trizzino also discussed a proposal before the World Trade Organization to waive certain intellectual property rights in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the USTR statement said.

“Ambassador Tai sought Mr. Trizzino’s views on steps Novavax is taking to quickly increase equitable production and distribution of vaccines in the United States and around the world,” the statement said.

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is not currently authorized for use in the United States.

WTO members are due to discuss a proposal by India and South Africa to waive certain provisions of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights on April 30, but the United States and a few other big countries have blocked such a move.

Democratic lawmakers, civil society groups, and 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners have urged President Joe Biden to back the waiver.

Shares of Novavax surged 16% in extended trading on Tuesday after Biden said the United States was planning to share COVID-19 vaccines with countries in need of aid.

The company is expected to report data from its ongoing large, late-stage study in the United States and Mexico during the second quarter of this year.

Tai held virtual meetings on Monday with vaccine makers Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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