The U.S. Government said it will support the waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to help more countries secure enough vaccines to inoculate their populations.
The decision by the Biden administration was announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai amid ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks on the easing of global trade rules that would enable more countries to produce more of the life-saving jabs.
Tai said the global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic called for extraordinary measures but warned the waiver agreement would take time.
“The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” Tai said in the statement.
Tai’s announcement was backed by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who praised the bold move and the commitment by the US administration calling it a monumental moment in the fight against COVID-19.
“I commend the United States on its historic decision for vaccine equity and prioritizing the well-being of all people everywhere at a critical time. Now let’s all move together swiftly, in solidarity, building on the ingenuity and commitment of scientists who produced life-saving COVID-19 vaccines” he said.
Through the COVAX facility, the WHO in collaboration with other partners have scaled up the development and distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments especially to developing and underdeveloped countries.
Kenya has already benefited from the COVAX facility after it received 1.02M doses of the AstraZeneca in March and expects 2.5M more before the end of this month.