MEPs broke apart about Covid-19 jabs patent waiver

The EU should help empower Africa, among other regions, to produce vaccines itself, many of them said

Photo: EP The European Parliament Hemicycle in Brussels.

EU lawmakers didn’t reach consensus over waiver for Covid-19 vaccine patents for safeguarding a global access to jabs, during their plenary debate on Wednesday.

Some MEPs urged that the EU executive should support a waiver of the intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines as an essential element in accelerating the rollout of shots to low and middle income countries as otherwise they will run the risk of not inoculating their population until 2024.

But many lawmakers defended a standpoint that a patent waiver will have no effect for speeding up the provision of vaccines and would harm innovation. Vaccine production is highly complex and quality control take many years, they argued.

They said that the EU should in particular help empower Africa, among other regions, to produce vaccines itself and the knowledge needed to produce vaccines needs to be transferred and shared. They opined that it would be the fastest way to allow for a fairer global distribution of jabs.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum underlined that most countries with fewer resources have little or no access to vaccines while the US and the UK are stockpiling doses to excess. Europe is the only one that has already exported 50% of its production to 45 countries in need.

Saying that while the EU is ready to discuss the issue of patent waivers, EC Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, who took part at the debate, underscored that its proposed solutions include limiting export restrictions, resolving production bottlenecks, looking into compulsory licensing, investing in manufacturing capacity in developing countries and increasing contributions to the COVAX Facility.

A resolution on the topic will be put to a vote during the June session.

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