US will support Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver, which could allow SA to develop vaccines

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US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden.
Mandel Ngan / AFP

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he plans to back a World Trade Organisation 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 Organisation 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.

While intellectual property rights for businesses are important, Washington "supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines," US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," she added.

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