US President Biden says he plans to back WTO waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he plans to back a World Trade Organization waiver for vaccine intellectual property and would talk about it later in the day.

“Yes, I’m going to talk about that later today, yes,” Biden told reporters in reply to a question about whether he intended to back the waiver after he gave a speech regarding his proposed “American Rescue Plan.”

The United States and several other countries have thus far blocked negotiations at the World Trade Organization about a proposal led by India and South Africa that would waive the IP rights of pharmaceutical companies to allow developing countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines.

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the government’s position in a Wednesday statement, amid World Trade Organization talks over easing global trade rules to enable more countries to produce more of the life-saving vaccines.

“The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” Tai said in the statement.

But she cautioned that it would take time to reach the required global “consensus” to waive the protections under WTO rules, and U.S. officials said it would not have an immediate effect on the global supply of COVID-19 shots.

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