For the fight to contain the pandemic worldwide, the U.S. government supports suspending patents on Corona vaccines. The United States stands behind intellectual property protection, but the pandemic is a global crisis that requires extraordinary steps, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Wednesday. America would work within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish an agreement to that effect. Because of the consensus principle and the complexity of the matter, this could be time-consuming, she said.
The U.S. government's goal is to "get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as quickly as possible," Tai said. More than 100 WTO member countries want to suspend patents on the vaccines so that more companies can produce vaccines in more countries. However, key pharmaceutical industry source countries such as the United States, as well as company representatives, have so far blocked the effort, which was initiated by South Africa and India.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has hailed the announced support as a "historic decision." This is an important milestone in the fight against the pandemic, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday via Twitter. The decision is an impressive example of U.S. leadership on global health issues, he wrote. It can address global inequities in vaccines, he said, in order to work together to "end this pandemic."
The statement follows an address by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Group of Seven leading industrialized countries (G7) on Wednesday. There, Merkel said she hoped the United States would also get involved in supplying the world with vaccines "in the foreseeable future." At present, she said, this was still "virtually not" the case.
Germany is so far the largest donor to the international vaccine alliance Covax. Merkel stressed that she is counting on very close cooperation between the EU and the U.S. in the future to supply the world with vaccines. This will also be necessary in the coming years, she said.
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