WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — While the Biden administration says it supports intellectual property rights, “the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic” mean vaccine patent rights should be waived.
Some are cheering the White House’s support of waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents, saying the move would help struggling countries.
“I could not be more pleased,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). “We don’t want to have it re-infect us, we don’t want it to sneak up on us, and of course we don’t want unnecessary suffering in poorer countries.”
On Thursday, India reported 412,000 new COVID cases and 4,000 new deaths in just 24 hours.
“This is a critical step forward, standing up to the big pharmaceutical industry,” said Blumenauer.
A final decision from the World Trade Organization will take time, giving the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S. and around the world a chance to push back. Industry representatives say the patents aren’t just about money but also about safety.
“You could have a dangerous free-for-all where scarce supplies that are desperately needed to keep that manufacturing going end up being diverted potentially to companies that don’t know what they’re doing,” said Richard Torbett with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
There are also concerns that developing countries don’t have the ability to produce the vaccines quickly enough. Some say it would be better to boost vaccine production at American companies and share those vaccines with other countries.