US backs waiving patent protections for Covid vaccines, citing global health crisis

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Katherine C. Tai addresses the Senate Finance committee hearings to examine her nomination to be United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, in Washington, DC February 25, 2021.
Bill O’Leary | Pool | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it supports waiving intellectual patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, as countries struggle to manufacture the life-saving doses.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai wrote in a statement.

“As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the Administration will continue to ramp up its efforts – working with the private sector and all possible partners – to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines,” the statement added.

Stocks of major pharmaceutical companies that have produced vaccines, including Moderna, BioNTech and Pfizer, dropped sharply after news of the potential waivers first broke.

The Biden administration’s move comes as Covid infections surge to their highest levels in countries that have struggled to procure or distribute vaccines, highlighting a contrast with other nations, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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