The European Union on Friday called on the United States to start boosting its vaccine exports to contain the global COVID-19 crisis, and said US support for patent waivers would only provide a long-term solution at best. term.
“We invite all those who engage in the debate on a waiver of (intellectual property) rights to join us in pledging to be willing to export much of what is produced in this region,” said declared the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Following US calls for support for patent waivers on vaccine technology, French President Emmanuel Macron summed up Europe’s point of view when he said at a European summit in Porto, Portugal : “You can give the intellectual property to labs that don’t know how to produce it. They won’t produce it tomorrow.”
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez this week reserved the idea endorsed by US President Joe Biden, but immediately added: “We believe it is insufficient. It should be more ambitious.”
While the US has kept a tight lid on exports of US-made vaccines so it can inoculate its own population first, the EU has become the world’s largest supplier, allowing about as many doses to come out. of the bloc of 27 its 446 million inhabitants. Many EU countries, however, have demanded an end to vaccine nationalism and export bans.
Von der Leyen said any patent waiver “will not bring a single dose of vaccine in the short to medium term.”
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Macron said it was more important for Biden to work on exports. “The Anglo-Saxons are blocking many of these ingredients” necessary for the manufacture of vaccines, said the French leader, referring to Washington and London. “Today, 100% of vaccines produced in the United States of America are destined for the American market.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this week that the EU had distributed around 200 million doses within the bloc while around the same amount had been exported abroad.
“About 50% of what is produced in Europe is exported to almost 90 countries,” said von der Leyen, and called on Biden and other vaccine-producing regions or nations to step up their efforts.
“We are the most generous developed countries in the world. Europe should be proud of itself,” Macron said.
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The EU is trying to take back the diplomatic initiative on vaccines after Biden sets it up with his surprising approval to lift patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines, seeking to address the vaccine problem in the arms of people in the poorest countries.
EU leaders have said they are ready to discuss US support for proposals first submitted to the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa, but said many other initiatives would be more effective at this stage, ranging from increasing production capacity to distributing raw materials. . So far, they insisted, the issue of patent waiver is not a big deal.
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