Joe Biden will waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines, setting up a war between the White House and Big Pharma.
If you want to put the brakes on vaccine production, Biden has the plan for it.
The move to waive patent requirements is supposed to speed up vaccine distribution to the developing world. But there are so many potholes that have to be avoided before a single dose of vaccine is manufactured in third-world countries that even some on the left are asking whether it wouldn’t be faster to manufacture the doses and then give them away to impoverished nations.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the United States will now move forward with international discussions to waive the protections for the duration of the pandemic. U.S. officials helped block a World Trade Organization proposal that was introduced last year to stop enforcing patents for coronavirus-related medical products. Dozens of developing countries have pushed for the proposal, arguing that it would allow them to rapidly produce their own generic vaccines, rather than wait months or years for sufficient doses.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” Tai said in a statement.
Perhaps Ms. Tai doesn’t realize that most third-world countries don’t have a single factory capable of producing a vaccine. China and Russia will be grateful for the assistance.
The left believes it would “restore America’s position on the global stage” — a dubious claim and even more dubious reason for all the problems it would cause.
But the drug industry said that the move would backfire, with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America predicting that allowing more manufacturers to begin making shots would spark new competition for limited ingredients, slow down existing production and even lead to counterfeit vaccines.
“If the end goal is to help other countries vaccinate their people, this is more political theater than it is substance,” said Brent Saunders, a longtime biotech CEO who now leads Vesper Healthcare Acquisition Corp., saying it could take years to build new factories to produce coronavirus vaccines. “If the government wanted to be helpful, it would help expand the manufacturing capacity of the existing companies.”
Meanwhile, most of the major drug companies have already inked deals with other countries to supply them in the future with vaccines. So what’s the point?
The waiver would remove liability protections for American drug makers. They would have limited oversight in how their product is manufactured but be liable for any damages.
This is a blatant political move by Biden to shore up his left-wing base by appearing to be the world’s number one humanitarian. Instead, he’s causing the companies that did all the research, testing, manufacturing, and marketing to lose billions of dollars.
Why should they bother next time there’s a public health crisis?