A group of US lawmakers has urged President Joe Biden to support India and South Africa’s move before the World Trade Organization to temporarily forego some trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) in order to enable better production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tests.
The move comes after India and South Africa, along with several other countries, urgently went to the WTO to request a temporary waiver of the TRIPS agreement. The previous Trump administration had opposed such a move.
At a press conference here on Wednesday, lawmakers – Rosa DeLauro, Jan Schakowsky, Graf Blumenauer, Lloyd Doggett, Adriano Espaillat and Andy Levin – said so while calling on President Biden to support the temporary waiver of emergencies called for by the countries of India and South Africa.
Lawmakers said more than 60 US officials would jointly write to Biden to announce support for India and South Africa’s proposed TRIPS waiver at the WTO. The temporary exemption for TRIPS would allow countries and manufacturers to directly access and share technologies used to manufacture vaccines and therapeutics without incurring trade sanctions or international disputes.
The Biden administration has a duty to undo the damage caused by the Trump administration and restore our nation’s global reputation as a leader in public health, DeLauro said.
As we see every day, the COVID-19 pandemic knows no bounds. Our globalized systems cannot recover if only parts of the world are vaccinated and protected from the virus. We have to make vaccines available everywhere if we are to destroy the virus anywhere, and we have to make policy choices in both the US and the WTO that put people first, DeLauro said.
Congress has provided billions of dollars in emergency aid to the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries and is planning billions more. The sooner we can end this emergency, the faster these industries can recover. President Biden’s support for the TRIPS waiver is key to ending the pandemic and starting a strong global recovery.
Schakowsky said big drug companies strongly oppose it, claiming in their letter to President Biden that “intellectual property is the foundation for both the development and sharing of new technology,” not to mention their own profits or the billions of dollars it generates Taxpayers have contributed to their research and development.
As a global community, we must come together and use every tool we can to stop this pandemic. We have seen WTO intellectual property rules and corporate greed have catastrophic public health effects during past epidemics, and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen again, said Blumenauer.
The Biden administration has already shown that we are in it along with our allies. They understand that a deadly pandemic does not end at any border. The next step is to ensure that trade rules do not affect developing countries’ access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests.
Given the variants of COVID from Brazil and South Africa to stop this deadly virus, we need to be vaccinated extensively all over the world, not just the richest countries, Doggett said. While America lacked adequate vaccines, there were almost no vaccinations in poorer countries, he said.
America has an obligation to support the global community with the tools and vaccines we have developed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Espaillat said, adding that there is a global puzzle that will have countries wait months or even years Vaccinating their citizens only allows the virus to continue mutating, spreading and killing more people.
We just can’t let that happen. During this time of crisis, rather than protecting the operating results or intellectual property of wealthy pharmaceutical companies that result from our collective investments, including maximizing the capacity around the world, we must remove all barriers to vaccine distribution to ensure that every person, Anyone who wishes this vaccine has immediate access, regardless of economic background, race or nationality, said Espaillat.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has the ability to do this, and I encourage the Biden government to urge the WTO and partner countries to use the tools at their disposal to do so, he said.
I really want to get back to normal, said Levin. But I want this normalcy to be sustainable! I want to make sure that this virus doesn’t keep spreading, but rather mutate – possibly in a way that’s resistant to the vaccines we’re getting. I’m not telling this to the scare-monger, he added.
(Only the headline and image of this report may have been updated by Business Standard staff. The rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)