US and WTO work to end patent issues that block jabs to poorest countries



The US top trade negotiator will begin talks with the World Trade Organisation on ways to overcome intellectual property issues that are keeping critically needed Covid-19 vaccines from being more widely distributed worldwide, the White House said yesterday.

he White House has been under pressure from lawmakers at home and governments abroad to join an effort to waive patent rules for the vaccines so that poorer countries can begin to produce their own generic versions of the shots to vaccinate their populations.

The US has been criticised for focusing first on vaccinating Americans, particularly as its vaccine supply begins to outpace demand and doses approved for use elsewhere in the world but not in the US sit idle.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be starting talks with the trade organisation “on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared,” said White House chief of staff Ron Klain. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration would have more to say on the matter in the coming days.

Mr Sullivan said the administration believed pharmaceutical companies “should be supplying at scale and at cost to the entire world so that there is no barrier to everyone getting vaccinated.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is among a group of Democratic senators who are pressuring the White House on the issue, said the situation was “morally objectionable.”

Irish Independent



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