Van Hollen and Colleagues Urge Biden to Approve Vaccine Patent Waiver to Boost Production and End Pandemic
“Prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits”
Ahead of a May 5 meeting of the World Trade Organization’s General Council, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined 9 other senators Friday in sending a letter to President Biden urging him to publicly support a temporary patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines that would allow countries to manufacture treatments locally, expediting the global vaccination effort, saving countless lives and crushing the pandemic.
“Your Administration has the opportunity to reverse the damage done by the Trump Administration to our nation’s global reputation and restore America’s public health leadership on the world stage,” the 10 senators wrote. “To bring the pandemic to its quickest end and save the lives of Americans and people around the world, we ask that you prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits by reversing the Trump position and announcing U.S. support for the WTO TRIPS waiver.”
Joining Van Hollen, the letter was also signed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The world is currently in a race to beat deadly coronavirus variants that will continue spreading unless more people around the world are vaccinated. While wealthy nations are able to purchase more shots, international efforts to get the vaccine to the rest of the world, like the World Health Organization’s so-called COVAX effort, are falling woefully short of increasing the global supply to a level that is needed to stomp out the virus.
The proposal to temporarily waive the WTO’s intellectual property rules was put forward by South Africa and India in October, and will be a focus at the body’s meeting early next month. Over 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners Wednesday signed a letter to Biden backing the effort.
In a poll conducted by Data for Progress and Progressive International released Thursday, 60% of American voters back the waiver, including 50% of registered Republicans. In February, more than 400 prominent U.S. health, faith, consumer, labor, development and other organizations write Biden urging him to reverse Trump’s block on the waiver.
Read the letter here.
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