close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
May 7, 2021

US backs plan to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents

AFP
May 7, 2021

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday announced support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, offering hope to poor nations that have struggled to access the life-saving doses.

India, where the death toll hit a new daily record amid fears the peak is still to come, has been leading the fight within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow more drugmakers to manufacture the vaccines -- a move pharma giants oppose.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that while intellectual property rights for businesses are important, Washington "supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines" in order to end the pandemic.

"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," she said in a statement.

Biden had been under intense pressure to waive protections for vaccine manufacturers, especially amid criticism that rich nations were hoarding shots.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), called the US decision "historic" and said it marked "a monumental moment in the fight against Covid-19." Tai cautioned however that negotiations "will take time given the consensus-based nature" of the WTO.

With supplies for Americans secured, the Biden administration will continue efforts "to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution," and will work to "increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines."Meanwhile, a return to enjoying drinks with friends on a cafe terrace, so eagerly anticipated after seemingly interminable closures because of the Covid-19 pandemic, still poses a relatively small risk of contagion, experts warn, suggesting a variety of safeguards.After months of on-again, off-again lockdown, many countries have reopened their bars or plan to do so soon. Italians led the way in late April, followed by Greece on Monday, with France set to reopen its trademark sidewalk cafes on May 19.

Even with strict Covid safety measures in place, the reopenings are hugely symbolic for millions of people, holding out the hope of a return to normalcy just as spring ushers in warmer weather.

"I feel like I am living again, I’ve come back to life!" said Greek pensioner Andreas Riminiotis as Athens reopened on a sunny on Monday. "The main message is still that (outdoor terraces) are far less risky than poorly ventilated interior spaces," epidemiologist Antoine Flahault told AFP.

Nearly 18 months after the start of the pandemic, experts agree that Covid-19 is largely transmitted through aerosols -- tiny droplets that hang in the air. They are produced "through infected people breathing, speaking, shouting or singing," said Flahault, head of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva.