- The European Commission and the European Parliament differ on the issue of patenting the COVID-19 vaccine.
- EU lawmakers are backing the patent waiver, saying it will improve global access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
- Millions of lives are at stake and your inaction is killing people, said left-wing French MP Manon Aubry.
STRASBOURG: The European Commission and the European Parliament are divided on the issue of patenting the COVID-19 vaccine. European lawmakers adopted a majority resolution on Thursday lifting the patent on the coronavirus vaccine.
The position of the European Commission is that the global patenting system does not allow it, while Members of the European Parliament say that in the exceptional case of COVID-19, patent removal is necessary.
“Today, once again, we are discussing the lifting of vaccine patents. It should have been clear from the start,” said left-wing French MEP Manon Aubry.
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“Millions of lives are at stake and your inaction is killing people,” Aubry said.
She said waiving the patent would improve global access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines, voluntary licensing and the transfer of know-how and technology, which is essential to increase global production in the long term. .
The MEP called on the United States and the United Kingdom to abolish the ban on the export of vaccines and raw materials.
To accelerate the global deployment of vaccines, MEPs have called for the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights protection for COVID-19 vaccines.
In a resolution adopted by 355 votes in favor, 263 against and 71 abstentions, the European Parliament proposed the opening of negotiations for a temporary derogation from the WTO agreement on intellectual property rights (travel) related to trade on patents to improve global access to affordable COVID. -19 medical products and to cope with global production constraints and supply shortages.
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Lawmakers have highlighted the threat that an indefinite waiver of the travel agreement would pose to research funding, especially for researchers, investors, developers and clinical trials.
Voluntary licensing (where the vaccine developer decides to whom and under what conditions the patent can be licensed to enable manufacture) and the transfer of know-how and technology to countries with vaccines are the most important means of expanding and accelerating long-term production, lawmakers argued.
To address production bottlenecks, lawmakers called on the EU “to quickly remove export barriers and replace its own export authorization mechanism with export transparency requirements”.
The United States and the United Kingdom, for their part, should “immediately abolish their ban on the export of vaccines and raw materials,” they said.
Lawmakers have said 11 billion doses are needed to immunize 70% of the world’s population and that only a fraction of that amount has been produced.
Vaccine production in Africa
As the vast majority of the 1.6 billion doses of vaccine administered to date have gone to industrialized vaccine-producing countries and only 0.3% to the 29 poorest countries, the EU must support manufacturing in Africa, stressed the parliament.
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Another important vehicle for delivering vaccines to low-income economies is COVAX’s Global Vaccine Delivery Mechanism, to which the European Parliament has encouraged contributions.
Transparency for next-generation vaccines
Finally, MEPs demanded full disclosure of future advance purchase agreements, especially for next-generation vaccines, and that these contracts include transparency requirements for suppliers.