The United States nevertheless supports the demand from developing countries to release the patents for corona vaccines temporarily.
In this way, more vaccines can be produced worldwide, and vaccinations can take place more quickly. The US will also work to convince other countries, although the US government warns. The European Union is ready to talk about it.
The US government believes in intellectual property protection, which initially opposed the temporary release of corona vaccine patents. But “these unusual times and circumstances call for unusual measures,” writes US Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai on Twitter. And so the US government has changed its mind.
A patent is an exclusive right that, in this case, a pharmaceutical company has to make and sell a product. Other companies are not allowed to. The temporary release of corona vaccine patents would allow more companies to counterfeit vaccines without being fined. In this way, more vaccines can be produced worldwide, and less wealthy countries can vaccinate large parts of their population more quickly against COVID-19.
The proposal to release the patents came from developing countries within the World Trade Organization (WTO), headed by India and South Africa, dealing with dangerous virus variants.
Now that the United States has turned its backs, it pledges to participate actively in WTO negotiations to persuade other countries to support the proposal. The US government warns that it will take time. Within the WTO, decisions can only be taken unanimously.
The European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Brazil and Norway, among others, are against the plan. But according to the American ambassador, there is now so much at stake that the right to the protection of own inventions must give way.
The European Union is willing to discuss the proposal. “The European Union is ready to discuss any proposal that addresses this crisis effectively and pragmatically,” commented European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the US change, of course.