Germany opposes US call to waive Covid vaccine patents

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposes the US plan to waive patents (Filip Singer/Pool via AP)

(AP) – Germany has opposed the US call to expand access to Covid-19 vaccines for poor countries by removing patent protections on the jabs.

A spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future.”

She said Germany is focused instead on how to increase vaccine manufacturers’ production capacity.

Activists and humanitarian institutions cheered after the US reversed course on Wednesday and called for a waiver of intellectual property protections on the vaccine.

The decision ultimately is up to the 164-member World Trade Organisation, and if just one country votes against a waiver, the proposal will fail.

The Biden administration announcement made the US the first country in the developed world with big vaccine manufacturing to publicly support the waiver idea floated by India and South Africa in October.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron embraced it as well.

“I completely favour this opening up of the intellectual property,” Mr Macron said at a vaccine centre.

However, like many pharmaceutical companies, Mr Macron insisted that a waiver would not solve the problem of access to vaccines.

He said manufacturers in places like Africa are not now equipped to make Covid-19 vaccines, so donations of shots from wealthier countries should be given priority instead.

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