Health

WHO welcomes US support for a vaccine patent suspension

(Update 2: adds EU reaction)

Geneva/Washington, May 6 (EFE).- World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has celebrated the support of the United States government for a temporary waiver of vaccine patents, which he considered “a monumental moment in the fight against Covid-19.”

Washington’s announcement “is a powerful example of American leadership to address global health challenges,” the WHO’s director-general Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) held an opposing view, saying the decision was “disappointing,” adding that “a waiver is the simple but the wrong answer to what is a complex problem” and that it will not “increase production nor provide practical solutions needed.”

“On the contrary, it is likely to lead to disruption,” the organization said in a statement, indicating that other limitations must be solved such as the “elimination of trade barriers, addressing bottlenecks in supply chains and scarcity of raw materials and ingredients in the supply chain, and a willingness by rich countries to start sharing doses with poor countries.”

“The only way to ensure quick scaling up of and equitable vaccine access to all those in need remains pragmatic and constructive dialog with the private sector,” added IFPMA.

The US announcement was followed by sharp falls in the shares of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as Moderna and Novavax, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Earlier Wednesday, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Washington’s support for the proposal by more than 100 nations to temporarily waive patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement.

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