The United States Trade Representation (USTR) said Wednesday that its country is in favor of waiving patents and other intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines.
“This is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” said Katherine Tai, head of the USTR in a statement.
In the year since the Covid-19 outbreak was first diagnosed, it has spread to more than 200 countries.
The pandemic has negatively affected global economic growth beyond that experienced in nearly a century.
So far, according to an analysis by the US Congress, estimates indicate that the virus reduced the growth of the world economy at an annualized rate of -4.5 to -6.0% in 2020, with a partial recovery of 2.5 to 5.2% projected for 2021.
Likewise, it is estimated that world trade fell 5.3% in 2020, but is expected to grow 8.0% in 2021.
Tai released a statement announcing the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines.
“The Administration strongly believes in intellectual property protections, but in the service of ending this pandemic, it supports the exemption of those protections for Vaccines-19,” said Tai.
But the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) criticized the decision.
“This decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and encourage the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines,” PhRMA President Steve Ubl said in a statement.
The USTR will actively participate in the text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) necessary to make that happen.
Those negotiations will take time due to the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved.
“The Administration’s goal is to bring as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. As our supply of vaccines to the American people is secured, the Administration will continue to intensify 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,” added Tai.