Europe offers alternative to US-backed Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver plan
The European Union is vigorously pushing back US-backed calls to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, preparing a rival plan that officials say would better protect pharmaceutical companies’ patents and seek to other means of increasing supplies to developing countries.
As the gap between vaccines have and have not widened, Washington and China have approved a proposal by developing countries at the World Trade Organization to suspend patent protection for vaccines.
Brussels’ alternative plan would lift restrictions on the export of vaccines and their raw materials, increase manufacturing capacity globally and make it easier for countries to use existing rules to bypass patents in some cases, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
The EU’s position makes a swift agreement on the waiver proposal less likely and could derail it altogether, trade experts say.
EU officials have said they will present the proposal to the WTO next week, when members are also expected to discuss the waiver. They argue that removing patents won’t do much to boost production in the short term and remove incentives for drug companies to continue their work, such as updating vaccines against viral mutations.