Geneva, May 6
The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded the commitment by the US to temporarily lift intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, an advance that may help produce more vaccines globally.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the decision on Wednesday saying that President Joe Biden’s “administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines”.
“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 WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a statement, on Wednesday.
“I commend the United States on its historic decision for vaccine equity and prioritizing the well-being of all people everywhere at a critical time. Now let’s all move together swiftly, in solidarity, building on the ingenuity and commitment of scientists who produced life-saving Covid-19 vaccines,” Tedros said.
Kai added that the US would participate in World Trade Organization negotiations to support the temporary waiving of protections, and work with the private sector and other partners to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
“The White House’s support for the temporary waiving of intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines reflects the wisdom and moral leadership of the United States to work to end this pandemic,” Tedros said.
Earlier Tedros, and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines.
“If we’re going to vaccinate the majority of the adults to bring herd immunity, then the amount of vaccine we need will be significantly more than what we have now,” Xinhua news agency quoted Tedros as saying during a WHO press conference on Monday.
A temporary suspension of IP rights for Covid-19 vaccines could be instrumental in vaccine manufacturing “in Africa and in other parts of the world where manufacturing is not happening”, said Brown.