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Germany against waiving patents for COVID-19 vaccines

Posted May. 08, 2021 07:15,   

Updated May. 08, 2021 07:15


One day after Joe Biden’s administration led announced its official support for waiving COVID-19 vaccine-related patents to expand supply, the largest European country Germany opposed the idea. American pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, the manufacturers of messenger RNA vaccines known for high infection prevention rates, also opposed the proposal, saying that such a proposal to give up intellectual property rights will make vaccine supply even harder. As the exemption of intellectual property rights requires a unanimous agreement among all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), future steps won’t be easy.

“The limiting factors for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high-quality standards, not the patents,” said Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel said on Thursday (local time) on President Biden’s Wednesday statement in support of waiving intellectual property rights. “Protection for intellectual property rights is the principle of innovation and should be maintained in the future,” said a spokesperson of the German government in a statement on Thursday. German-based BioNTech SE co-developed vaccines with U.S.-based Pfizer. Pharmaceutical companies that developed vaccines with a massive amount of funds and resources all opposed the idea. “I didn't lose a minute of sleep over the news during the night,” CEO of Moderna Stéphane Bancel said following the company’s first-quarter earnings release on Thursday. He added that waiving patents will not help expedite the mRNA vaccine supply. “Intellectual property right waiver does not mean anything for vaccine production. It will rather slow down the production,” CEO of Pfizer Albert Bourla said during an interview with Nikkei on Friday.

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com · Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com