Argentina, Spain call for lifting of Covid-19 vaccine patent protections

Buenos Aires, Jun 9 (EFE).- Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called here Wednesday for Covid-19 vaccine patent protections to be waived so those life-saving jabs can be more quickly distributed to people in poorer countries.

“From a multilateral point of view, Argentina and Spain are calling for the lifting of patent protections for vaccines, for them to be considered a global public good and consequently for their distribution to be expedited,” Sanchez said in a joint press conference with Fernandez during an official visit to Buenos Aires.

He also called for a global increase in Covid-19 vaccine production capacity with a view to inoculating populations everywhere and bringing the pandemic to an end.

“It’s of great concern to us that 90 percent of the vaccines that have been produced are in the hands of 10 percent of the countries, and we think there’s great inequity” there, Fernandez said for his part.

Developing nations have been calling for a temporary waiving of Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property rights and have received support from the United States and China, but the European Union as a whole says lack of manufacturing capacity is the problem and opposes the suspension of patents.

The Argentine head of state hailed the “enormous effort” his country has made in starting local production of the Russian-developed Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and in making strides toward doing the same with one developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).

Argentina also is producing the AstraZeneca-developed Covid-19 vaccine for the Latin American region under a deal with Mexico and that British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

But Fernandez said a greater push is needed.

“What we need is a commitment to make the vaccines a global good and allow the technology to be transferred to different countries so production can be scaled up and accelerated and (the vaccines) can reach every inhabitant on the planet,” the president said after praising Europe for having donated 50 percent of its vaccines to the Covax mechanism, a World Health Organization-led effort that aims to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have access to Covid-19 jabs.

Sanchez recalled that Spain has announced the donation of more than 20 million vaccine doses in 2021 and is particularly focused on assisting with Latin America’s immunization drive.

Asked why overseas tourists inoculated with the Sputnik V vaccine – the one most commonly administered in Argentina – are not yet allowed to enter Europe, the prime minister recalled that the Russian vaccine has not been authorized for use by European regulators.

Even so, he said that shouldn’t be an “obstacle to inter-continental mobility.” EFE


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