The US has said it would support the temporary waiver of intellectual property provisions to allow developing nations produce Covid-19 vaccines created by pharmaceutical companies, citing a pressing need to stem the pandemic.
Overriding objections from the pharmaceutical industry, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the US would support a proposal working its way through the World Trade Organization, WTO.
Such a policy would waive the IP rights of vaccine makers to potentially enable companies in developing countries and others to manufacture their own versions of Covid-19 vaccines.
“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,” Ms. Tai said in a statement.
Countries suffering from an explosion in new cases—including India and South Africa—have pushed for the waiver. In India, it was reported recently that less than 2 percent of the population had been vaccinated, and new Covid-19 cases are at record highs globally, as the pandemic rages unchecked in many poor and middle-income countries.
Pharmaceutical companies, however, oppose it, saying the waiver won’t provide the short-term results that the proponents highly anticipate. This is partly because of the challenge of setting up complex new production facilities to manufacture the vaccines.