The United States will continue to press for a waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments even as it and other Group of Seven rich nations sharply expand donations of vaccines to poorer countries.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday the Biden administration was working on multiple fronts to end the pandemic.
“Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures,” Tai told a virtual town hall for union members hosted by the AFL-CIO trade federation.
That effort included donations of 80 million vaccine doses by the end of June, additional donations of 500 million doses announced on Thursday by President Joe Biden, and negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to secure a limited waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for vaccines, she said.
“And this may take time, given the complexity of the issues involved, but our goal remains to get vaccines to as many people as fast as possible,” Tai said, adding that the pandemic would not be over until it was contained everywhere.
Biden’s plan to donate 500 million more doses – a key element in the G7’s plan for 1 billion donations – raised some questions about whether Washington could drop its support for an IP waiver at the WTO.