Hoping to get vaccines out into the world soon, the Biden administration this week called for a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, earning commendations from WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and others.
“This is a monumental moment in the fight against COVID-19,” Tedros said. “The commitment by the President of the United States Joe Biden and Ambassador Katherine Tai, the US Trade Representative, to support the waiver of IP protections on vaccines is a powerful example of American leadership to address global health challenges. I commend the United States on its historic decision for vaccine equity and prioritizing the well-being of all people everywhere at a critical time.”
Tai announced on Wednesday that the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic called for extraordinary measures to respond. Tedros called it a sample of moral and wise leadership. The ambassador followed up by noting that the U.S. could participate in World Trade Organization negotiations to support the temporary waiving of protections and work with the private sectors to expand the manufacturing and distribution of these vaccines.
“Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved,” Tai said. “The administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.”