One of the most important issues that has been discussed during these months of pandemic has been the possibility of temporarily suspending patents for vaccines against Covid-19. The World Trade Organization has taken the leading role in a negotiation on the matter and has now received the support of the European Parliament through a non-legislative resolution.
The resolution, approved by just one vote (325 in favor and 263 against plus 71 abstentions) affirms that “exceptional circumstances require exceptional solutions” and calls for priority to be given to “the availability and affordability of health products related to the covid-19, increased production of covid-19 vaccines and global geographic distribution of manufacturing capacity.”
“International trade policy must play a driving role in this endeavor, facilitating trade in medical and healthcare raw materials and products, alleviating the shortage of qualified and experienced personnel, solving supply chain problems, and reviewing the global framework for intellectual property rights in the face of future pandemics,” the text adds.
The proposal of the European Commission (EC) before the WTO is to allow governments to force pharmaceutical companies to assign their patents at affordable prices, while the US and other countries continue to push for the complete release of the patent, something that the EC does not share.
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