European leaders have raised doubts about COVID-19 vaccine patient waiver and criticized the United States for not exporting the much needed shots.
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters on Friday that it’s not really a matter of intellectual property rights. “You can give the intellectual property to labs that do not know how to produce the vaccine and they won’t be able to produce it overnight.” He insisted that the best way to increase global vaccination rates is for vaccine-producing nations to step up their exports.
“Today the Anglo-Saxons are blocking a lot of these ingredients and vaccines. Today 100% of the vaccines produced in the US go to the American market,” Macron said. “The Europeans are the most generous on this front.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she has already made it clear that releasing patents is not the solution to provide vaccines for the masses. However, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described US’s initiative as a good initiative, but added that it is not enough.
Last week, US President Joe Biden had announced that the United States was in favor of lifting intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. This came after health experts, human rights groups and international medical charities highlighted that it is critical to waive patents to urgently address global vaccine scarcity amid the pandemic.
But vaccine makers believe this could disrupt the flow of raw materials and lead to lower investments on health research from smaller biotech innovators. Latest data from the European Commission shows that out of 400 million doses produced in the bloc so far, 200 million have been exported to 90 countries.
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, said that exporting vaccines is the best way right now, in the short term, to approach the bottlenecks and the lack of vaccines worldwide. “We should be open to this discussion. We should also have a close look at the role of licensing,” she said. “These are important topics to discuss. But we should be aware of the fact that these are topics for the long term.”