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US support on Covid-19 vaccine patents: This is how it happened

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The US has supported a waiver on the ability to patent Covid-19 vaccines.
The US has supported a waiver on the ability to patent Covid-19 vaccines.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The announcement this week by the United States that it is in favour of a call by South Africa and India for big pharmaceutical companies to waive intellectual property rights protection for Covid-19 vaccines doesn't mean it has been accomplished, but it shows significant progress.

"When the US comes into this negotiation, it does change things," said Mustaqeem de Gama, South Africa's counsellor accredited to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"It's a good move forward. It doesn't mean that we get the waiver for free, but it's a realisation of a strategy that we wanted to move to text-based discussion, and the fact that the US has now signalled that it is willing to do so has brought other nations into the camp."

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