EU Doesn't Buy Waiving Vaccine Patents

Leaders want US, UK to share more vaccine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2021 2:00 PM CDT
EU Wants More Vaccine From US, Not Patent Changes
European Council President Charles Michel arrives for an EU summit at the Crystal Palace in Porto, Portugal, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)

(Newser) – European Union leaders cranked up their criticism of the US call to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents Saturday, arguing the move would bring no short or midterm relief. They instead urged Washington to lift export restrictions if it wants to have a global impact on the pandemic. "We don't think, in the short term, that it's the magic bullet," said EU Council President Charles Michel on the second day of an EU summit in Portugal. French President Emmanuel Macron insisted that giving any priority to discussing intellectual property rights now, "is a false debate," the AP reports. Instead, they joined previous EU calls for President Biden to start boosting vaccine exports to contain the global COVID-19 crisis, insisting it was the most urgent need. “We encourage all the partners to facilitate the export of (vaccine) doses," Michel said.

While the US has kept a tight lid on exports of its vaccines so it can inoculate its own population first, the EU has become the world's leading provider, allowing about as many doses to go outside the 27-nation bloc as are kept for its 446 million inhabitants. "First of all, the Anglo Saxons must stop their bans on exports," Macron said. "In the United States, in the United Kingdom, 100% of what has been produced has been used in the domestic market." Macron and other EU leaders have insisted that production capacity must be ramped up by, among other things, reconverting factories so they can quickly produce vaccines through a transfer of technology. Developed nations should also increase vaccine donations to poorer countries. Only then, Macron said, can the debate on patent waivers start having an impact. "Today, there is not a factory in the world that cannot produce doses for poor countries because of a patent issue," Macron said.

(Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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