Gates Foundation supports 'narrow waiver' of intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines

Washington DC

In a significant shift of stance, Gates Foundation has followed the line taken by the Biden administration to back the temporary waiver of intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines.

"No barriers should stand in the way of equitable access to vaccines, including intellectual property, which is why we are supportive of a narrow waiver during the pandemic. Those negotiations will occur via the WTO process, led by country negotiators," said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman.

Suzman said that Gates Foundation will continue to advocate for countries with supply to share doses. "And we will continue to advocate for countries with supply to share doses with those without as soon as possible, and for COVAX to be fully funded," he said.

The announcement follows backlash against billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, for reportedly opposing waiving some provisions of the World Trade Organisation's agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

This change in stand comes in the backdrop of the statement by US trade representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, where she said that the extraordinary circumstances required extraordinary measures to respond and that the waiving of intellectual property protections on vaccines was needed to help end the pandemic.

On Thursday, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said that she is ready to discuss solutions to help increase the production of COVID-19 vaccines for global vaccination.

"Our priority is to ramp up production to achieve global vaccination. At the same time we are open to discuss any other effective and pragmatic solution. In this context we are ready to assess how the US proposal could help achieve that objective," the EU chief tweeted.

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