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EU Parliament to discuss waiving COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights


EU Parliament to discuss waiving COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights

UNICEF UN0415226 Reddy
Photo: UNICEF/UN0415226/Reddy

The European Parliament (EP) will assemble in Brussels today to discuss waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.

Today’s meeting will center around the possible outcomes of the waiver within the WTO TRIPS accord—which regulates intellectual property rights—for COVID-19 vaccinations. The proposal intends to promote the universal circulation of COVID-19 shots and to ensure worldwide accessibility.

The topic remains divisive for the EP,  as the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformist (ECR) group is against the waiver, whereas the EU’s center-right European People’s Party (EPP) supports waiving property rights to prioritize the equitable granting of COVID-19 vaccines.

Expect Brussels’ decision either way to be stymied by a lack of support from the US regarding vaccine logistics. The US’ low vaccine export rate in comparison to the EU—due to President Biden’s invocation of the Defense Production Act—represents a significant concern for Brussels. However, Washington is unlikely to comply with Brussels’ desire to increase vaccine exports as the Biden administration continues to prioritize the pace of domestic vaccination. If the proposal to forego property rights is rejected, the EU will instead promote motions such as creating manufacturing centers around the world to produce sufficient vaccines.

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