- The closely watched issue of patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines garnered headlines again as the Biden administration came out in favor of a proposal at the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property protections for shots.
- U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced that the Biden administration supports waiving IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in the statement.
- Tai said the U.S. would actively participate in World Trade Organization text-based negotiations to make the waiver happen. She added that such discussions would take time, given the complexity of the issue involved.
- Tai also added that with the U.S. vaccine supply secured, the administration would work with the private sector and all possible partners to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution worldwide.
- The news was unwelcomed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) trade group. Stephen Ubl, head of the industry lobbying group, said, “In the midst of a deadly pandemic, the Biden Administration has taken an unprecedented step that will undermine our global response to the pandemic and compromise safety. This decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines.”
- He also added, “This decision does nothing to address the real challenges to getting more shots in arms, including last-mile distribution and limited availability of raw materials. These are the real challenges we face that this empty promise ignores.”
- India and South Africa have been especially vocal when it comes to an IP waive.
- In March, the White House was reportedly contemplating suspension of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, amid concerns that the U.S. and a handful of other wealthy countries hold the right to a large amount of the global supply of the shots.
- Price Action: Moderna Inc MRNA is down 6.03% at $153.02; Pfizer Inc PFE is down 2.68% at $38.90, BioNTech SE BNTX dipped 7.48% to $158, AstraZeneca Plc AZN moved 0.7% higher at $53.69, and Johnson & Johnson JNJ shares were down 0.6% at $166 during premarket trading on the last check Thursday.
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