The Biden administration faces increasing pressure to help low-income countries access much-needed coronavirus injections.
Senior U.S. Trade Representative To Begin Discussions With World Trade Organization (WTO) On How To Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines More Widely, As The Country faces increasing pressure to help other nations get much needed hits.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Sunday that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai would be in talks with the WTO “on how we can get this vaccine to be more widely distributed, more widely authorized, more widely shared ”.
“We’ll have more to say about this in the days to come,” Klain said in an interview on CBS News’s Face the Nation.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has faced calls to lift intellectual property rights on essential coronavirus vaccines to allow more countries to manufacture doses.
The United States, which has the most cases and deaths of coronavirus in the world, has stepped up vaccinations of its own population this year, with nearly 56% of adults having received at least one vaccine to date, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But many other countries have been unable to quickly inoculate their populations amid a global vaccine shortage and other challenges – and public health experts say the United States should do more to promote global equity in vaccines.
Last month, the international medical association Médecins Sans Frontières (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) urged rich countries to stop blocking patent waivers for COVID-19 vaccines to help low-income countries secure doses.
The United States said last week that it was given his options maximize the global production and supply of vaccines at the lowest cost, including supporting a proposed IPR waiver, but no decision has been taken.
Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that the administration believes pharmaceutical companies “should deliver on a large scale and at a cost to the whole world so that there are no obstacles in the way. vaccination for everyone ”.
Tai’s office did not respond to an email request for further information from the Associated Press news agency.
Also on Sunday, Independent US Senator Bernie Sanders said that while the United States is to ensure that every citizen is vaccinated as quickly as possible, it also has a “moral obligation” to ensure that other countries have access to the shots as well. .
“I think what we have to say to pharmaceutical companies right now, when millions of lives are at stake around the world, yes – allow other countries to have these intellectual property rights so that they can produce the vaccines we desperately need. poor countries, ”Sanders said in a interview with NBC News’ Meet the Press program.
“There is something morally wrong with rich countries being able to get this vaccine and yet millions and billions of people in poor countries cannot afford it.”