US Supports Waiving Intellectual Property Rights Over COVID Vaccines
(RightWing.org) – Intellectual property (IP) rights are complicated and can make or break a nation’s economy. Former President Donald Trump understood this reality and went to war with China in part to protect the rights of American companies against the threat of IP and technology theft.
With Joe Biden holding the reins of power, it appears that the White House’s concern for the rights of businesses to stay in business has taken a back seat to look like the guys (and gals) wearing white hats.
Yes, Biden criticized Trump’s tough stance on China, but to the surprise of many — he kept Trump’s tariffs on China intact. At least, he DID. It appears the White House’s resolve to continue to honor that portion of Trump’s “America First” trade policy disappeared in a puff of smoke.
The Biden Administration Now Supports Lifting Some IP Protections?!
On May 5, Fox Business reported that the United States suddenly supports waiving IP protections covering COVID-19 vaccines. US trade representative Katherine Tai announced that the US would start negotiating with the World Trade Organization (WTO) about setting aside IP rights that protect the trade secrets of American pharmaceutical companies.
According to her, the Biden administration supports IP rights, “but in service of ending [the COVID-19] pandemic,” the Biden White House now “supports the waiver of those protections.” Wow!
These extraordinary times and circumstances of call for extraordinary measures.
— Ambassador Katherine Tai (@AmbassadorTai) May 5, 2021
As one might expect, pushback against the idea was swift. A group of Republican legislators led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) penned a letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative arguing that the waiver wouldn’t accomplish much in the way of improving public health.
“The requested waiver is extraordinarily broad,” they wrote and won’t help to get the vaccine out to countries in need. Instead, the waiver would undermine the very means that led to the success of Operation Warp Speed. Additionally, setting aside IP rights for American companies “would not meaningfully improve vaccine availability.”
Here’s the thing — they are correct. Sure, COVID-19 and IP rights are complicated issues. But, there are better and faster ways to make the vaccine available to other nations. Biden needs to focus more on finding the fastest and most effective means of getting the vaccines out to countries that need help. In doing so he can actually BE one of the good guys instead of just trying to look like one.
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