COVID Vaccines IP – TRIPS Waiver Debate

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COVID Vaccines IP – TRIPS Waiver Debate

Statement from Ambassador Katherine Tai on the Covid-19 Trips Waiver
WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today released a statement announcing the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.  The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines. We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) needed to make that happen. Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved.
“The Administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.  As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the Administration will continue to ramp up its efforts – working with the private sector and all possible partners – to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution.  It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines.”



WHO Director-General commends United States decision to support temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines
5 May 2021 News release
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the commitment by the United States administration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris to support the temporary waiver of intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines in a bold move to end the pandemic as quickly as possible.
“This is a monumental moment in the fight against COVID-19. The commitment by the President of the United States Joe Biden and Ambassador Katherine Tai, the US Trade Representative, to support the waiver of IP protections on vaccines is a powerful example of American leadership to address global health challenges,” said Dr Tedros…



Unitaid statement on US support for IP waiver for COVID-19 vaccines
Geneva, 6th May 2021 –
Unitaid welcomes the decision of the United States government to support a waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
This is an important step forwards for equitable access in the context of the current World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations around Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and we applaud the leadership of President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and Ambassador Katherine Tai.
Alongside vaccines, there is a need to have broad access to all the tools to fight COVID-19 – including treatments – for low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which are currently carrying the heaviest burden of the pandemic.
An important component, alongside the waiver of intellectual property rights, will be the transfer of technology, so that manufacturers can receive the know-how to scale up production quickly. This equally applies to therapeutic products such as monoclonal antibodies, which could be an important tool in the COVID-19 response.
The current crisis of rising case numbers, new variants and constrained oxygen supply illustrates the urgent need for rapid action both in-country and at a global level. We encourage the international community to mobilise to make the tools to fight COVID-19 available to everyone, everywhere.
Marisol Touraine, Chair of the Unitaid Executive Board
Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director, Unitaid



IFPMA Statement on WTO TRIPS Intellectual Property Waiver
Geneva, 5 May 2021 – The decision of the US administration to support a patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines is disappointing. We are fully aligned with the goal to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are quickly and equitably shared around the world. But, as we have consistently stated, a waiver is the simple but the wrong answer to what is a complex problem. 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; while distracting from addressing the real challenges in scaling up production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally: namely elimination of trade barriers, addressing bottlenecks in supply chains and scarcity of raw materials and ingredients in the supply chain, and a willingness by rich countries to start sharing doses with poor countries.

While the decision of the US administration does not address the real challenges in vaccinating the world, industry will not waver in its commitment to provide safe, effective and quality vaccines and therapeutics. We will continue to leave no stone unturned to further scale up manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, as no one is safe until everyone is safe. The international intellectual property system has given companies confidence to engage in more than 200 technology transfer agreements to expand delivery on COVID-19 vaccines based on unprecedented partnerships between vaccine industrialized and developing country vaccine manufacturers. 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.



PhRMA Statement on WTO TRIPS Intellectual Property Waiver
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 5, 2021) – Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) president and CEO Stephen J. Ubl made the following statement after the United States Trade Representative expressed support for a proposal to waive patent protections for COVID-19 medicines:

“In the midst of a deadly pandemic, the Biden Administration has taken an unprecedented step that will undermine our global response to the pandemic and compromise safety. This decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines.

“This change in longstanding American policy will not save lives. It also flies in the face of President Biden’s stated policy of building up American infrastructure and creating jobs by handing over American innovations to countries looking to undermine our leadership in biomedical discovery. This decision does nothing to address the real challenges to getting more shots in arms, including last-mile distribution and limited availability of raw materials. These are the real challenges we face that this empty promise ignores.

“In the past few days alone, we’ve seen more American vaccine exports, increased production targets from manufacturers, new commitments to COVAX and unprecedented aid for India during its devastating COVID-19 surge. Biopharmaceutical manufacturers are fully committed to providing global access to COVID-19 vaccines, and they are collaborating at a scale that was previously unimaginable, including more than 200 manufacturing and other partnerships to date. The biopharmaceutical industry shares the goal to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and we hope we can all re-focus on that shared objective.”



Support of “TRIPS” Waiver Sets Dangerous Precedent – BIO
May 5, 2021
Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), released the following statement in response to the White House’s support of waiving critical intellectual property rights for COVID-19…
…”Handing needy countries a recipe book without the ingredients, safeguards, and sizable workforce needed will not help people waiting for the vaccine. Handing them the blueprint to construct a kitchen that – in optimal conditions – can take a year to build will not help us stop the emergence of dangerous new COVID variants. The better alternative would have been to follow through on the President’s pledge just last week to make the United States the world’s “arsenal of vaccines”.  This policy leads in the opposite direction….