• Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

Vaccines, patent revocation: Merkel skeptical and Europe divided


May 7, 2021

Vaccines and patent revocation, Europe is divided. The proposal of US President Joe Biden collects many yes among European leaders, including that of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, but serious doubts remain to be overcome, starting with those of Germany. Read also MERKEL SKEPTChancellor Angela Merkel leaked her skepticism yesterday. “Intellectual property protection is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future,” a German government spokesperson told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “The limiting factor in the production of vaccines – he added – is the production capacity and the high quality standards, not the patents”. “We are working in many ways on how to improve production capacities in Germany and the European Union, but also globally, and the companies concerned are doing so too,” the spokesperson continued. The US proposal, he commented, has “significant implications for vaccine production as a whole.” TODAY THE OPORTO SUMMIT The issue will be on the table today at the Oporto summit, where European leaders will finally look each other in the eyes and decide in person. With the exception of Angela Merkel, who will be there but connected remotely. Among the last-minute defections, there are also those of the Dutch Mark Rutte and the premier of Malta Robert Abela. Today will be the first summit in attendance for Draghi, who so far has not failed to make his voice heard in Europe – see the change led by Italy on the blocking of vaccine exports for non-compliant big Pharmas – but has not yet physically met his colleagues as prime minister in office. DRAGHI AND THE EU WITH BIDEN Draghi’s position on the possible ‘liberalization’ of vaccines is clear and in line with Biden’s: “Vaccines are a global common good. It is a priority to increase their production, guaranteeing their safety, and breaking down the obstacles that they limit vaccination campaigns “, said the premier. On the same wavelength the EU, which said it was “ready to discuss any proposal that tackles the crisis in an effective and pragmatic way”. “And that is why we are ready to discuss how the US proposal for an intellectual property protection exemption for Covid vaccines can help achieve this goal,” said European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, while launching a appeal to all producing countries to allow exports in the short term and avoid the adoption of measures that interrupt the supply of doses. French President Emmanuel Macron has also joined with other leaders who have spoken out in favor of the cancellation of patents for covid vaccines. Vaccines are a global common good, what makes access to vaccines difficult is technology transfer and production capacity, he said as he inaugurated a new vaccination hub in central Paris, including Switzerland. In a statement sent to the Keystone-ATS agency, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) considers the announcement from the United States “significant”. For Seco, however, this temporary suspension will not guarantee “fair, cheap and rapid” access to vaccines and other pandemic technologies. For the Confederation, there is no simple solution, as there are numerous elements to consider. The President of the Confederation Guy Parmelin, interviewed by the Srf, defended the protections on patents. According to the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (Defr), this is “necessary” for innovation. Switzerland – which has received criticism on the issue at national and international level – has nevertheless said it is “ready” to continue the discussions started within the WTO.PFIZER SAYS NO On the other side of the fence there are the large pharmaceutical companies, to starting from the US Pfizer “not at all” agreed to the revocation, as highlighted by the ceo Albert Bourla. Pfizer produced and marketed, together with the German company BioNTech that had developed it, the first vaccine against covid approved in the West.