By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday the Biden administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. 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 a statement. “The administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible. As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the administration will continue to ramp up its efforts, working with the private sector and all possible partners, to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines.”

Tai said the United States will negotiate with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to sort out the details under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement). WTO members established this framework to help address global public health threats like COVID-19 and other emergencies, especially when it comes to assisting nations in need with critical medication access.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called Wednesday’s announcement “a powerful example of American leadership to address global health challenges” that “reflects the wisdom and moral leadership of the United States.”

“I commend the United States on its historic decision for vaccine equity and prioritizing the well-being of all people everywhere at a critical time,” Ghebreyesus said. “Now, let's all move together swiftly, in solidarity, building on the ingenuity and commitment of scientists who produced life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.”

 For much more Relias Media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.