BRUSSELS, MAY 9: European countries distanced themselves on Friday from a proposal backed by US President Joe Biden to waive patent rights on coronavirus vaccines, arguing that key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic was making and sharing vaccines more quickly.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the question of sharing patents was not the issue of the day, and called out Britain and the US for blocking the export of vaccines and their ingredients to the wider world.
Leaders of the 27-nation bloc were supposed to discuss the suggestion to share vaccine intellectual property at a 2-day summit that opened in the Portuguese city of Porto on Friday, but they were divided on its usefulness. Experts say waivers could take years to negotiate, and would not address the immediate need to manufacture more doses fast.
“What is the current issue? It is not really about intellectual property. Can you give intellectual property to laboratories that do not know how to produce and will not produce tomorrow?” Macron said as he went into the summit.
“The main issue for solidarity is the distribution of doses,” he said, adding that France was working hand in hand with Germany on the issue. The EU, which is among the biggest producers of vaccines in the world, is also the main exporter, with 200 million doses already shipped outside the bloc. The US and Britain have not exported any of the vaccines they have made. (Agencies)