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US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

'US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward', 6 May 2021

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, has support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular have yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

The TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines. This limits the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

Richer countries have bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries are vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries have yet to vaccinate anyone...

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