EU Parliament Backs Temporary COVID-19 Patent Waiver in U-Turn Decision

Date: June 15, 2021 | Country: BELGIUM | Region: EUROPE | Type: Policy | 
Keywords: #biden #covid #european #parliament #patent #transparency #waiver

PRICENTRIC BRIEF:

  • Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have come out in support of temporarily waiving intellectual property rights (IPR) for COVID-19 vaccines
  • In a resolution, the members adopted the idea with 355 votes in favor, 263 against and 71 abstentions with regard to a temporary waiver of the WTO TRIPS Agreement on patents to improve global access to affordable COVID-19-related medical products
  • The group voted on the temporary waiver, citing concerns that an indefinite TRIPS Agreement waiver would pose a risk to research finance, in particular for researchers, investors, developers and clinical trials

THE DETAILS

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have come out in support of waiving intellectual property rights (IPR) for COVID-19 vaccines.

In a resolution, the members adopted the idea with 355 votes in favor, 263 against and 71 abstentions with regard to a temporary waiver of the WTO TRIPS Agreement on patents to improve global access to affordable COVID-19-related medical products.

The group voted on the temporary waiver, citing concerns that an indefinite TRIPS Agreement waiver would pose a risk to research finance, in particular for researchers, investors, developers and clinical trials.

MEPs also called on the EU “to rapidly eliminate export barriers and to replace its own export authorization mechanism with export transparency requirements” in order to address production bottlenecks.

Initial Uncertainty

MEPs first clashed over proposals to nix patents for COVID-19 vaccines in a plenary debate on 19 May.

Global discussions first erupted on May 5, when the Biden administration supported waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines in a surprise U-turn on his previous stance.

Up until then, the U.S. had been against waiving patents on the vaccines, but under increasing pressure, Biden now appears to have changed his mind.

In a statement, Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative, announced: “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.”

“Those negotiations [with the WTO] will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved.”

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