The Biden administration's decision to support India and South Africa's proposal at WTO to waive anti-COVID vaccine patents to boost its supply is an important step in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, top US lawmakers have said.
President Joe Biden is to be commended for the United States' plans to take a strong role in negotiations that are focused on how best to ensure that all countries have access to life-saving treatments and vaccines during the pandemic, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.
"The Biden administration's announcement that it will work to advance a carefully-crafted TRIPS waiver for vaccines at the WTO is a welcome and important step in the fight to crush the virus globally, she said. Hailing Biden for this "monumental decision", Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who is Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said this recognises the common humanity they share in the face of this horrific and unprecedented pandemic.
By heeding to the call of a global grassroots movement, this administration is restoring US global leadership by putting human life above pharmaceutical profits, Jayapal said. "This life-saving decision to reverse the Trump administration's shameful obstruction of international efforts temporarily waive patent monopolies could not come a moment too soon, as India, Brazil, and countries across the world experience terrifying new surges in COVID19 infections and deaths, she said.
She noted that wealthy countries have administered more than 80 per cent of global vaccines while low-income countries have received just 0.3 per cent. Congressman John Larson applauded the Biden administration's decision to support the proposal. "This is something I urged the administration to do because it will significantly ramp up production, he said.
"When President Biden was sworn into office, we knew that the United States was back as a global leader. Today's announcement is proof that as a nation, we care more about saving lives and helping poorer nations than we do about corporate greed and profits, a joint statement issued by more than half a dozen US lawmakers said.
They are Jan Schakowsky, Rosa DeLauro, Lloyd Doggett, Earl Blumenauer, Angie Craig, Jes s Chuy Garc a, Barbara Lee, Adriano Espaillat and Andy Levin. When the US taxpayers funded the investment in the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines, it was not only to find a solution to the pandemic here at home, but also to crush the virus around the world, they said.
"Americans are endangered if a worldwide COVID-19 vaccine shortage continues to allow this highly contagious, rampant pandemic to spread a path of death and suffering around the globe. Much of the required vaccines should be manufactured abroad near those in greatest need using American technology, the lawmakers said.
"The TRIPS waiver will allow sharing of the intellectual property required for vaccine manufacturing to get underway immediately, and we applaud the Biden administration's support of it in the WTO. This is the right thing to do, and a moment to make every American proud, they said.
Congressman Adam Smith said an intellectual property waiver is an important step to enable other countries to manufacture vaccines, ramp up global vaccine supply and defeat COVID-19.
"Waiving IP protections alone isn't enough to make vaccines available around the world. The US must work with other countries to expand their own manufacturing capabilities, continue to share more of our own vaccines, and support international vaccine initiatives like COVAX, he said.