The Biden administration on Wednesday decided to back the India-led fight for a global waiver on patent protections for coronavirus vaccines.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said though intellectual property rights are important for businesses, Washington “supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines”.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” she said in a statement, as reported by news agency AFP.
India, which is battling a massive wave of the deadly virus, has insisted on the waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow more companies to produce the drug in order to end the pandemic.
World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the US decision, with its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying it marked “a monumental moment in the fight against COVID-19.”
US President Joe Biden was under severe pressure to support these waivers as rich nations are being criticised for hoarding the vaccines.
WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday called it a “moral and economic issue of our time.”
The US trade representative also said that when the supply of vaccines for Americans are secured, Washington will continue efforts “to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution.”