US now backs patent protection waivers for COVID-19 vaccines

…The decision opens the door for vaccines being manufactured worldwide.

The U.S. had opposed the waivers, but in a statement Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tsai says the U.S. “will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization needed to make that happen.”

“The extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures… The Administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible,” Tsai said.

There has been concern among the pharmaceutical industry about the precedent this may set. But Tsai’s statement makes clear this is limited to the coronavirus — “in service of ending this pandemic,” she said.

Negotiations at the WTO are still underway, and it’s unclear what caveats or carveouts there may be for possible waivers.


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