AHF Salutes President Biden for Supporting Vaccine Patents Waiver
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS care globally, applauded today President Biden’s historic decision to support a proposal to waive intellectual property (IP) rights protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
The announcement was made on May 5 in a statement by United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai. The decision is exceedingly timely because the World Trade Organization (WTO) is set to debate the IP waiver once again this week after a handful of wealthy countries had blocked previous attempts to adopt it. Ambassador Tai went on to say in the statement that the U.S. Government will actively participate in the WTO debate on the waiver “to make that happen,” with the goal of getting as many people vaccinated as possible.
“This is a decision of momentous significance for billions of people around the world. We salute President Biden for taking a resolutely principled position in favor of waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “The decision puts the health of people above the profit-driven interests of pharmaceutical companies, and it will have an immediate impact on the negotiations at the WTO. Once we clear the patents hurdle, countries need to quickly get on with the job of ramping up vaccine production. We must vaccinate our world to defeat COVID-19!”
With over 3 million people dead and new COVID-19 cases completely exceeding the capacity of healthcare systems in countries like India and Brazil, there is a crushing need for more vaccines, particularly in the developing world. However, as of today, 1.19 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally – 83% have been given in wealthy countries – while low-income countries have received a mere 0.3%.
The USTR announcement is an unprecedented break with U.S. policy position that has traditionally favored strong IP protections on pharmaceutical products, such as HIV medications. If the WTO is successful in adopting a resolution on an IP waiver, this should pave the way for generic pharmaceutical companies to enter the market. They would be able to produce patented vaccines without the fear of being sued for IP violations, which in turn, would expand global manufacturing capacity and lead to greater vaccine availability at a lower cost.
AHF issued a statement calling for President Biden to uphold his promise to waive vaccine patents on May 4, and prior to that a similar statement on April 15. His administration’s announcement today to do just that is a vital step toward ensuring vaccine equity for billions of people worldwide.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare
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