United States President Joe Biden has thrown his support behind a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, responding to pressure from Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Biden’s chief trade negotiator Karen Tai said in a statement, amid growing concerns that big outbreaks in India could allow the rise of vaccine-resistant strains of the coronavirus, undermining a global recovery.
Biden’s move won praise from the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The pharmaceutical industry’s biggest lobby group warned that Biden’s unprecedented step would undermine the companies’ response to the pandemic and compromise safety.
Biden’s decision paved the way for what could be months of negotiations to hammer out a specific waiver plan as World Trade Organization decisions require the consensus of all 164 members. The USA and other countries have previously blocked negotiations at the WTO on a proposal led by India and South Africa to waive protections for some patents and technology and boost vaccine production in developing countries.
As one of the countries with vaccine supply problems, the waiver spells good news for the Philippines. Even if we are unable to set up facilities to manufacture our own much-needed vaccines, any development that results in the expansion of the global manufacturing capacity will benefit our country’s Covid-19 vaccination program that needs all the help it can get.
World leaders are doing all they can to get as many vaccines to as many people all over the planet. Let us do our share by convincing loved ones, friends and neighbors to get the jab that we all need for a return to normalcy as soon as it is made available.*