European Parliament backs patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines

EU lawmakers have voted in favor of a resolution that supports waiving patents for vaccines to help end the coronavirus pandemic.

MEPS passed the resolution Wednesday with 355 in favor, 263 against, and 71 abstentions, with the results released Thursday.

South Africa and India have proposed waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus-related products, including vaccines, at the World Trade Organization. On Wednesday, WTO members announced they are going to start text-based discussions. The EU until now has opposed the waiver and has proposed other solutions to increase access to affordable coronavirus vaccines.

But with this vote, MEPs from a wide range of groups are upping pressure on the Commission to change that strategy, and they demonstrated enough support to get a Green amendment supporting the waiver approved. That amendment calls for “support for proactive, constructive and text-based negotiations for a temporary waiver of the WTO TRIPS Agreement, aiming to enhance global access to affordable COVID-19- related medical products and to address global production constraints and supply shortages.”

For Kathleen Van Brempt, the S&D coordinator on trade, this vote sends a “strong signal” to the Commission. Green MEP Anna Cavazinni called it a “huge step for ensuring that vaccines are globally accessible.”

Notably, the final resolution marks a change from the original compromise resolution put to Parliament on Wednesday by the EPP, the S&D, Renew, the Greens and ECR, which didn’t include the Greens’ amendment supporting of a waiver.



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