12 Republican lawmakers write seven-page letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the issue

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he had not made a decision on whether the United States would support an Indian and South African initiative at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) to facilitate the production of COVID. -19 vaccines and associated therapies worldwide.

“Well, we’re going to decide that as we move forward, I haven’t made that decision yet,” Biden said Tuesday afternoon at the White House, after delivering remarks on the vaccination campaign in the United States. His administration would act as quickly as possible to get as many doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to export to the rest of the world, Mr Biden said. The US government has already ordered 100 million additional doses of these vaccines until July 31.

A group of nine Democratic senators and Bernie Sanders (an independent) called on Biden last month to support a temporary intellectual property waiver. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai had discussed the matter with U.S. officials at vaccine makers Pfizer and AstraZeneca last week.

On Tuesday, however, a group of 12 Republican lawmakers wrote a seven-page letter to Ms. Tai asking her not to support the IP exemption initiative, calling it “extraordinarily broad and unnecessary” to give the maximum number of people. possible access to COVID-19. vaccines and treatments and that this would undermine the “record rapid innovation” of vaccines.

“The rationale for the waiver rests on a flawed assumption that intellectual property rights are a significant bottleneck for the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.” The letter says access to COVID-19 treatment can be expanded globally without weakening intellectual property, and weakening intellectual property would hamper U.S. innovation and technology.

“This danger is particularly acute given that many of the crucial technological advances made by US companies and institutions in the fight against COVID-19 have been achieved through billions of dollars of investment by US companies as well as billions additional US tax dollars. The letter said.

The letter cites logistical challenges such as the lack of cold rooms and syringes as well as regulatory obstacles in developing countries as access bottlenecks. Lawmakers suggest that the focus be on COVAX and the COVID-19 Tool Access Accelerator (ACT), i.e. existing international efforts to improve access to vaccines.

Lawmakers also note that intellectual property rights have been “successfully granted” while “maintaining intellectual property protections”, citing, among other examples, the Serum Institute of India’s agreements with AstraZeneca and Novavax and the licenses of pharmaceutical company Gilead to Indian manufacturers of antiviral remdesivir.

The signatories of the letter were Jim Jordan, Darrell Issa, Steve Chabot, Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Mike Johnson, Tom Tiffany, Thomas Massie, Dan Bishop, Michelle Fischbach, Scott Fitzgerald and Cliff Bentz. Mr. Chabot, who is on the Intellectual Property Subcommittee, is also co-chair of the House India Caucus and recently signed his name in a letter to Mr. Biden, appreciating the help given to India to date and calling for more to be done.