Senators: Waive Vaccine Property Rules 04/16 06:01
Ten liberal senators are urging President Joe Biden to back India and South
Africa's appeal to the World Trade Organization to temporarily relax
intellectual property rules so coronavirus vaccines can be manufactured by
nations that are struggling to inoculate their populations.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ten liberal senators are urging President Joe Biden to
back India and South Africa's appeal to the World Trade Organization to
temporarily relax intellectual property rules so coronavirus vaccines can be
manufactured by nations that are struggling to inoculate their populations.
The lawmakers, in a letter delivered to the White House on Thursday evening,
wrote that Biden should "prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits"
and support the temporary waiver of the rules. A waiver could pave the way for
generic or other manufacturers to make more vaccines.
The letter was led by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, along with
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin
and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut,
Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of
Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Raphael Warnock of Georgia also signed
"Simply put, we must make vaccines, testing, and treatments accessible
everywhere if we are going to crush the virus anywhere," the lawmakers say in
the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
More than 100 nations support a temporary waiver, which could help vaccine
manufacturing ramp up in poorer countries that are struggling to acquire
vaccine supplies. The Biden administration has said it is studying the issue.
Opponents, including pharmaceutical companies, worry that it would set
dangerous precedent in allowing scientists around the globe to copy American
and European companies' research -- some of which was funded by the U.S.
government -- long before patents expire. The Trump administration had opposed
calls for the waiver.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the lawmakers'
The lawmakers' appeal to Biden came after a group of 170 former world
leaders and Nobel laureates earlier this week sent a similar letter to Biden
urging him to support a temporary waiver of the WTO's intellectual property
The coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide,
including more than 170,000 in India and more than 50,000 in South Africa,
according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.