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US Focused on Easing Vaccine Patents, Creating Greater Access to Technology – National

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A senior US trade official said Thursday that the Biden administration remains committed to easing the rules that protect the technology behind coronavirus vaccines so they can be produced more widely.

But Ambassador Katherine Tai insisted that “we cannot want something to happen” in the negotiations on the issue at the World Trade Organization, because any such move requires all its member states to join.

Tai, the US trade representative, acknowledged that some outside the talks may perceive that the US has been “silent” on the issue in recent months. That was after Washington took a stance in May in favor of an exemption from intellectual property rules at the WTO when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines to help boost production around the world.

But she insisted that the work continued behind the scenes.

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“This may be the case of the duck in the pond, where from the outside you think that the duck is just sitting hanging, but below the surface the duck’s legs go very, very fast.” Tai said in a talk at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

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He said the United States and many other countries want to see more vaccine production and more equitable access to them. The exemption on COVID-19 vaccines is “something we remain dedicated to,” he said, while noting that the WTO operates by consensus, which means that all 164 member states must agree.

“While we are making progress collectively, there is still much more progress we need to make,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Canada remains undecided on vaccine patent exemptions'

Canada remains undecided on vaccine patent exemptions

Canada Still Undecided on Vaccine Patent Exemptions – May 9, 2021

A Geneva-based trade official said a closed-door meeting of the WTO’s TRIPS Council on Wednesday produced “points of convergence” when it comes to a possible response to the pandemic through intellectual property tools.

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Council President Ambassador Dagfinn Sorli of Norway said he would try to seize the opportunity to move towards consensus when trade ministers from WTO member states meet from November 30 to December 30. 3.

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The World Health Organization says the vast majority of COVID-19 vaccines, largely produced in the US, Europe and Asia, have gone to the world’s richest countries, while developing nations have had relatively little access to them.

Tai promoted the United States’ show of “leadership” by taking a stance in favor of an intellectual property exemption last spring, but said all countries must show leadership on the issue for an exemption to be granted.

“Part of the privilege of being considered a leader is that people always ask themselves ‘where is your leadership?’ – So we exercise our leadership in May, “he told reporters in Geneva before his talk at the Graduate Institute.” But please remember – right? – that the WTO is a consensus-based organization, so not we may want something to happen. “

“You have to work with others, you have to talk to them and listen to them, and that is what we are doing,” he added. “Believe me, none of this is easy … Everyone has to exercise leadership.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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