NEWS: Senators Urge Biden to Approve Vaccine Patent Waiver to Boost Production and End Pandemic

“Prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits”

WASHINGTON, April 16 – Ahead of a May 5 meeting of the World Trade Organization’s General Council, 10 senators sent a letter to President Biden urging him to publicly support a temporary patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines that would allow countries to manufacture treatments locally, expediting the global vaccination effort, saving countless lives and crushing the pandemic.

“Your Administration has the opportunity to reverse the damage done by the Trump Administration to our nation’s global reputation and restore America’s public health leadership on the world stage,” the senators wrote. “To bring the pandemic to its quickest end and save the lives of Americans and people around the world, we ask that you prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits by reversing the Trump position and announcing U.S. support for the WTO TRIPS waiver.”

The letter was led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and joined by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

The world is currently in a race to beat deadly coronavirus variants that will continue spreading unless more people around the world are vaccinated. While wealthy nations are able to purchase more shots, international efforts to get the vaccine to the rest of the world, like the World Health Organization’s so-called COVAX effort, are falling woefully short of increasing the global supply to a level that is needed to stomp out the virus.

The proposal to temporarily waive the WTO’s intellectual property rules was put forward by South Africa and India in October, and will be a focus at the body’s meeting early next month. Over 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners Wednesday signed a letter to Biden backing the effort. In February, more than 400 prominent U.S. health, faith, consumer, labor, development and other organizations wrote Biden urging him to reverse Trump’s block on the waiver. In a poll conducted by Data for Progress and Progressive International released Thursday, 60% of American voters back the waiver, including 50% of registered Republicans.

Read the letter here.