Europe

EU Parliament Calls For COVID-19 Patent Waiver

The European Parliament approved a resolution calling for a temporary lifting of intellectual property protection on coronavirus vaccines, the institution announced on Thursday.

In a legally non-binding position, the European Parliament suggested the European Commission starting negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) on a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and other medical products.

According to EU lawmakers, the patent waiver can enhance global access to COVID-19 shots and drugs by boosting production and reducing supply shortages.

The resolution encouraged vaccine producer countries and pharma companies to share their knowledge to scale and speed up global production in the long term.

The European Parliament also called on the EU to put an end to its export control mechanism on COVID-19 shots and urged the US and the UK at the same time to immediately lift the export ban on vaccines and raw materials.

The EU lawmakers cast their votes about the resolution on Wednesday, but the results were only announced on Thursday.

WTO members agreed on Wednesday to launch a discussion on the patent waiver.

The original proposal for a temporary waiver of WTO’s intellectual property rules was submitted last year by India and South Africa, and strongly supported by WTO Head, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and World Health (WHO) Chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus.

The EU represented by the European Commission is open to the idea in the long run, but according to their negotiating position, first vaccine producers should export more and focus on scaling up the production at the existing manufacturing sites.

Following the spat between the EU and the pharma company AstraZeneca, the bloc introduced an export control mechanism on vaccines produced in EU countries from February that allows the European Commission to verify if a pharmaceutical company, which signed an advanced purchase agreement with the bloc, had already delivered the jabs before granting an export permit.

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