Merkel breaks with Biden on US plan to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines

Source: The Hill | May 6, 2021 | Joseph Choi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration on Thursday broke with President Biden over a proposal to waive patent protections on vaccines, saying it would create “severe complications.”

“The limiting factor for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high quality standards, not the patents,” a spokesperson for the German government told Bloomberg News. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and this has to remain so in the future.”

Bloomberg notes that pharmaceutical stocks rebounded after news of Merkel’s stance broke, after having previously fallen in response to Biden’s proposal. Merkel’s stance indicates her agreement with arguments made by drug makers such as BioNTech, which is based in Germany, against Biden’s proposal.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it would support a proposal to waive international patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.”

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The U.S. is set to begin participating in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to go over the exact language of the waiver. This potential waiver has garnered the support of multiple low-income countries. However, other members of the WTO including the European Union, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil, Canada and Australia have all opposed the proposal.

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