Key members Germany and France defend patents, argue companies must be rewarded for efforts
The European Parliament has urged the EU to back a push for a temporary waiver of coronavirus vaccine patents, in the face of scepticism from Brussels and key member states.
Lawmakers voting late on Wednesday narrowly approved an amendment calling on the bloc “to support the Indian and South African World Trade Organization (WTO) initiative for a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, equipment and treatments, and urges pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge and data”.
EU leaders this month said they were willing to discuss patent waivers after U.S. President Joe Biden backed the plan — but called for more details on the proposal and urged other major producers to first increase their exports of much-needed jabs.
EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told lawmakers on Wednesday that Brussels would put forward its own proposal at the WTO focused on boosting production and freeing up exports.
He insisted Brussels would “engage constructively” to see if a temporary waiver of patents could help bolster global supplies and access to the doses.
WTO boss Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was set to meet EU Trade Ministers for talks in Brussels on Thursday.
The WHO, India and South Africa have all called for patents to be temporarily suspended in a bid to help boost deliveries to poorer nations struggling to vaccinate their populations.
Key EU members France and Germany have defended vaccine patents, arguing that innovative companies must be rewarded for their efforts.
Germany is the home of BioNTech, which developed the vaccine now being produced by U.S. giant Pfizer that has become the mainstay of Europe’s inoculation campaign.
Officials from the bloc have said the hoarding of crucial ingredients needed for vaccines by some nations was a larger obstacle than patent protection.
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