US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the United States would support the relaxation of patent rules on Covid-19 vaccines, potentially increasing global supplies, as a devastating wave envelopes India and calls for more more rich countries to close the gap with the developing world.
The World Health Organization has called for the temporary lifting of patents on Covid-19 vaccines until the global health crisis is brought under control.
But a German government spokeswoman said Thursday that “intellectual property protection is a source of innovation” and that the Biden administration’s decision would “have important implications for vaccine production.”
“The limiting factor in vaccine manufacturing is production capacity and high quality standards, not patents,” the spokesperson said.
“We are working in many ways to improve production capacity in Germany and in the European Union, but also in the world, and the companies concerned are doing this with great commitment,” she added. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future. “
The German government has also reiterated its support for the COVAX vaccine exchange initiative, “with the aim of ensuring that as many people as possible around the world have access to the vaccine.”
Biden’s intervention on Wednesday came after members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) discussed a proposal by India and South Africa last October to waive patents on vaccines and Covid-19 treatments. No decision has been made, but America’s backing could turn the tide on a WTO decision.
“The administration strongly believes in intellectual property protections, but in the service of the end of this pandemic, it supports the lifting of these protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” wrote US Trade Representative Katherine Tai in a statement. .
Earlier Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was ready to discuss a proposal to waive intellectual property rights in photos, Reuters reported.