EU Trade Director pushes for more Covid jab production instead of patent exemption


The European trade chief has called for a rapid increase in global vaccine production as the best way to combat the epidemic, and oppose the narrow focus on patent exemptions supported by the United States before the austerity negotiations next week.

Valdis Dombrovskis told the British “Financial Times” that the EU’s approach is based on the “realistic vaccine response strategy” and insisted that “the current main problem is related to the lack of adequate manufacturing capacity” rather than the issue surrounding patents.

Valdis Dombrovskis: “We are putting a specific proposal made by the European Union on the table. We think how to achieve this goal of global vaccine promotion” © JOHANNA GERON/EPA

The EU exported 250 million doses of vaccine And the 25 million approved by the U.S. to date, When Washington last month Announce In order to promote global vaccine production and save lives, it is supporting calls for abandoning patents.

This approach in the United States will allow any manufacturer in the world to produce “counterfeit” vaccines without being prosecuted for infringement of intellectual property rights. With the support of many other countries including China, Argentina and Indonesia, India and South Africa are supporting this cause within the WTO.

But Donbrovskys said, “There is still no specific US proposal on the table, and we don’t have any information about its coming soon.” On the contrary, “we are putting the specific recommendations made by the EU on the table. We think how to achieve this goal of global vaccine promotion,” he said.

The EU approach that Brussels will submit to the World Trade Organization next week focuses on three areas. In the documents seen by the British Financial Times, it advocated the removal of export restrictions and supported the expansion of production, including through subsidies.

Third, Brussels did not give up patents, but believed that the existing intellectual property rules were sufficiently flexible to allow the necessary licenses through the so-called Trips agreement.

The document said: “During the pandemic, intellectual property rights are not and should not be an obstacle to fair access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.” “Limited manufacturing capacity, access to raw materials and other inputs are the main bottleneck.”

Although the patent exemption is a widespread removal of intellectual property protection, vaccine licensing allows patents to be overturned under certain restrictions.

At the BioNTech laboratory in Marburg, Germany, employees in biohazard protective suits prepare raw materials for messenger RNA, which is the first step in the production of Covid-19 vaccines

Employees in biohazard protective suits prepare raw materials for messenger RNA at the BioNTech laboratory in Marburg, Germany. This is the first step in the production of Covid-19 vaccine © Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Brussels has always believed that Patent exemptions can be distracting Promote production in a more effective way. This debate is also very sensitive to the European Union, which is home to Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers such as BioNTech.

In the WTO negotiations earlier this week, the United States indicated that it was ready to conduct detailed negotiations and urged other countries to submit proposals that can be supported. The EU plan is designed to influence discussions at the WTO meeting from June 8-9, which focuses on intellectual property and Covid.

Dombrovskis said that at the same time, he urged EU pharmaceutical companies to “participate in voluntary licensing arrangements and sign cooperation agreements with manufacturers in developing countries to increase production capacity.”

The EU Trade Commissioner stated that the main goal of the program that will eventually be incubated in the WTO is to “work to ensure universal and fair access to Covid-19 vaccine and treatment.”

He said: “So far, we are the only major producing area where we can reliably say that we have been pursuing this goal since the beginning of the crisis.”

When talking about other vaccine-producing countries such as the United States, he added: “We are very happy to see other countries are now catching up, but they need to catch up faster.”



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About the Author: Agnes Zang