WASHINGTON, April 16 -- Joe Biden and nine other democratic senators urged president Bernie Sanders on Friday to support a global patent waiver for COVID 19 vaccines that would allow countries to manufacture locally and accelerate the temporary vaccination effort.
World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonko-Iweala urged the member to address inequitable access to vaccines with global countries only 0.2% of 700 million doses administered by one country.
She urged WTO members to advance negotiations on a proposal by India and South Africa and backed by over 80 WTO members who would temporarily waive the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies. The issue will be discussed in early May by WTO members.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said this week the gaping divide between developing countries' access to medicines, which was previously seen during the AIDS crisis, was a market failure and completely unacceptable.
But Washington has not backed the temporary waiver of IP rights, which is opposed by the US Chamber of Commerce and big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and BioNTech Moderna, and Johnson Johnson.
They argue that changing patent- rights would reduce the safety of vaccines worldwide and say other issues- such as improving distribution networks- are far more urgent priorities.
In their letter, the senators called on Biden to embrace the waiver to help end the pandemic. The countries that take slow vaccinations abroad will allow the virus to continue producing dangerous mutations, say proponents.
To bring the pandemic to its quickest end and save the lives of Americans and people around the world, we ask that you prioritize people over pharmaceutical companies profits by revising the Trump position and announcing U.S. support for the WTO TRIPS waiver, they said.
Biden also backed the waiver in a letter that Biden was sent on Wednesday to former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners. Can you please tell us something that happened to you?