Vaccine makers' anti-patent waiver lobbying heats up

Drugmakers that produce COVID-19 vaccines are dedicating more time and effort lobbying against a COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver, The Wall Street Journal reported May 26.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said May 5 the U.S. will support waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to expedite global vaccine production as the pandemic continues to rage in India and South America. She said the U.S. would actively participate in negotiations at the World Trade Organization over the matter, saying the negotiations "will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved."

The WTO has the authority to grant the waivers if all 164 member countries reach a consensus. A ministerial conference is slated to begin in November. In the meantime, COVID-19 vaccine makers are holding calls and meetings with governments worldwide to tell them that such a measure would fail to address shortages while threatening the availability of raw materials needed to produce the lifesaving shots, people familiar with the lobbying told the Journal.

The pharmaceutical industry hopes that by November, trade barriers that have limited access to COVID-19 shots and raw materials will be lifted, which could make a patent waiver seem unnecessary, sources told the Journal.


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