Washington supports raising patents for COVID vaccines

The United States announced, on Wednesday, that it supports the lifting of patents on vaccines against the Corona virus, an important gesture at a time when poor countries severely lack precious doses, the only weapons against the ongoing epidemic, especially in India.

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American Trade Representative Catherine Tay said: “This is a global health crisis, and the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for exceptional measures.”

She justified that “the administration firmly believes in protecting intellectual property, but to put an end to this epidemic, it supports lifting this protection for vaccines against Covid-19,” explaining that Washington was participating “actively” in negotiations in the World Trade Organization to allow the lifting of these patents.

Right now, the divide between disadvantaged and rich countries is widening, as vaccination campaigns – soon to be expanded in the United States for teens and in Canada for children from 12 years old – allow a gradual lift in health. Restrictions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged to show solidarity in this area, the members of the Group of Seven (the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy) on Wednesday in London discussed ways to “increase their capabilities”. Financial aid or sharing their excess doses to help poor countries.

After being exposed to possible cases of COVID-19, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was forced to participate in the meeting around Wednesday.

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India, which is experiencing a second devastating wave, has claimed 3,780 deaths and 382,000 additional injuries within 24 hours, or more than 222,000 deaths and nearly 20.3 million cases in total, a number that some experts see is largely under implementation. .

This situation is particularly attributed to religious gatherings, such as the massive Hindu pilgrimage to the Kumbh Mela that has drained millions of people, authorized political rallies in recent months, as well as the inaction of the Narendra Modi government.

Hospitals are overcrowded and lack oxygen supplies, medicine and beds, despite international aid pouring in.

India and South Africa, in particular, are calling for the temporary lifting of patents on vaccines to be able to speed up production, but some countries, including France, are against this.

Instead, Paris is asking for donations for the benefit of poor countries.

Globally powerful pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to suspend their patents, arguing that it deters costly research.

In this context, Kathryn Tay realizes that negotiations at the WTO “will take time due to the consensual nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues at hand.”

The US ambassador insisted that “the goal (…) is to provide the largest possible number of safe and effective vaccines to the largest possible number of people as quickly as possible.”

In India, the central bank announced $ 6.7 billion in cheap loans to the health sector. Weak and underfunded, it is struggling to cope with the influx of patients, with some finding death at the gates of hospitals.

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As for Malaysia, which is also facing a new wave, restrictions will tighten in its capital, Kuala Lumpur, as only essential companies are allowed to open their doors and close restaurants.

The foreign ministers of the G7 countries, who have met in London since Monday for their first face-to-face meeting in two years, have resumed their discussions to specifically look at how to achieve a more equitable distribution of vaccines.

Kovacs, the partnership system with poor countries, which essentially supplies itself with AstraZeneca vaccines, is already slipping: it provided only 49 million doses in 121 countries and territories, against a target of 2 billion in 2021.

On the other hand, in the United States, the country most bereaved by the epidemic, Joe Biden would like at least 70% of adults – compared to 56% currently – to have a first injection by the national holiday on July 4.

Canada on Wednesday approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for teens over the age of 12.

In the European Union, more than a quarter of the population has been given at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 9% of its population is now fully vaccinated, according to Agence France-Presse statistics.

For its part, the German government decided to reduce the number of people who received two doses of the numerous bans in effect for several months.

Parliament will vote in principle on Thursday and Friday on this text, which could go into effect at the end of this week.

On Wednesday, ambassadors of the 27 member states of the European Union will study the Commission’s proposal to enter the Union for travelers from third countries who have received the necessary doses of vaccines.

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The pandemic has killed more than 3.2 million people worldwide since the WHO office in China reported the emergence of COVID-19 at the end of December 2019, according to an AFP report on Wednesday.

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