Connect with us

COVID-19

COVID-19: ‘If voluntary licensing fails, compulsory licensing has to be a legitimate tool’ von der Leyen

Published

on

MEPs will vote on whether the EU should ask the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. Parliament will vote on a resolution tomorrow to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents.

During the May plenary session, the European Parliament called on the Commission to ask the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, an initiative proposed by South Africa and India and seemingly supported more recently by the new Biden administration in the US. 

Opinion among MEPs is sharply divided with some calling for a waiver, while others argue that it could be counterproductive and is a “false good idea” that would not speed up the provision of vaccines and would harm innovation. Instead, they argued the Commission should push for voluntary licensing alongside knowledge- and technology-sharing as well as ramping up production facilities in, among other regions, Africa.

Advertisement

On the G20 Global Health Summit that was recently convened by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and von derl Leyen. Von der Leyen outlined the three main points made in the resulting declaration, she said: “First of all, [the G20] committed to boosting production capacity in low and middle income countries. Then, of course, the second topic tackling those bottlenecks in the supply chains, for the seamless flow of vaccines and components. Finally,  we committed to investing in a global surveillance and early warning system.” 

On the TRIPS waiver Ursula von der Leyen said: “The question of the TRIPS waiver has been raised recently, we said we are open for discussions. Now just four weeks later, we have put forward a new global trade initiative at the WTO aiming to deliver more equitable access to vaccines and therapeutics… I think intellectual property has to be protected, protected, because it is the idea behind the breakthrough. And it retains the incentives for innovation in research and development. And of course, voluntary licenses are the most effective way to facilitate expanding production. 

“At the G20 Global Health summit reaffirmed this assessment, however, and it’s a big however, in a global emergency like this, like this pandemic, if voluntary licensing fails, compulsory licensing has to be a legitimate tool to scale up production. And this is why together with WTO, we want to clarify and simplify the use of compulsory licensing in times of national emergency. We have discussed this proposal yesterday with the WTO.

Advertisement

“Europehas also committed one billion euro to create manufacturing hubs in different regions in Africa, with African partners and our industrial partners.”

In the previous debate MEPs on both sides criticised the US and the UK for hoarding doses to excess at a time when poorer countries have little or no access to jabs. Alone among its peers in the developed world, the EU has already exported roughly half of its production to countries in need, they added.

COVID-19

‘We must remain vigilant’ Charles Michel

Published

on

The message from the European Council summit is that Europe must remain vigilant. Vaccination campaigns across Europe have brought progress in the fight against COVID-19, but there is a recognition that there is still a problem with vaccine hesitancy, in particular, in Romania and Bulgaria where the vaccination rates have been low. 

Charles Michel said that disinformation had to be tackled, particularly on social media platforms. 

There is ongoing work to accelerate recognition of certificates, with one important development being the recent decision of the United States to lift restrictions for vaccinated EU citizens as of 8 November, 2021.

Advertisement

In its conclusions, the European Council also called on the experiences of the COVID-19 crisis to strengthen the EU’s preparedness for future health emergencies and the conclusions of negotiations on the new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

In the context of the upcoming G20 meeting and in view of the special session of the World Health Assembly in November, the European Council underlines its support for a strong, central role for the World Health Organization in future global health governance and for the objective of agreeing an international treaty on pandemics.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

COVID-19

EU and US propose target of 70% of world vaccinated by next year

Published

on

Today (18 October) the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that together with the Biden administration will propose a target of 70% vaccination for the world. 

Von der Leyen said the EU will do its part, on top of its expertise the EU will donate at least  500 million doses of vaccines to the most vulnerable countries. She said that other countries had to set up and that she would work with Prime Minister Draghi and President Biden to rally G20 leaders to commit to this target. 

One billion vaccines exported from the EU

Advertisement

Von der Leyen said the EU had reached an important milestone in exporting more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the world: “Vaccines from the European Union have been shipped to more than 150 countries, just to name a few to Japan, to Turkey to the UK to New Zealand, to South Africa to Brazil.”

“We delivered around 87 million doses to the low- and middle-income countries through COVAX. So we made good on our promise, we have always shared our vaccine nation production capacity fairly with the rest of the world. We've said that at least every second dose is produced in the European Union will go abroad.”

Advertisement

Von der Leyen added that this hadn’t stopped the EU from reaching its target of more than 75% of the adult population fully vaccinated. She pointed to the fact that the EU managed to do this even when vaccines were scarce.

Continue Reading

COVID-19

EU vaccinates 70% of its adult population

Published

on

Today (31 August) the EU has reached a target of 70% of the adult population fully vaccinated. More than 256 million adults in the EU have now received a full vaccine course. 

The Commission already announced that it had met its target to deliver enough vaccines to vaccinate this proportion of the population at the end of July; today’s announcement confirms that these vaccines have been administered. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The full vaccination of 70% of adults in the EU already in August is a great achievement. The EU's strategy of moving forward together is paying off and is putting Europe at the vanguard of the global fight against COVID-19.”

Given the prevalence of the more virulent Delta variant, von der Leyen is urging EU countries and its partners to continue vaccinating at a pace. 

Advertisement

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “I am very pleased that as of today we have reached our goal to vaccinate 70% of EU adults before the end of the summer. This is a collective achievement of the EU and its member states that shows what is possible when we work together with solidarity and in co-ordination. Our efforts to further increase vaccinations across the EU will continue unabated. We will continue to support in particular those states that are continuing to face challenges.”

The picture across the EU varies enormously; the good news hides significant differences between EU members, with Romania (26%) and Bulgaria (17%) having very low rates of vaccination. Ireland, which has a very high rate of vaccination, has been able to purchase vaccines from Romania, despite its low rate of vaccination. 

Council removes 5 countries and one entity/territorial authority travel restrictions list 

Advertisement

The Council has updated the list of countries, special administrative regions and other entities and territorial authorities for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America were removed from the list.

Non-essential travel to the EU from countries or entities is subject to temporary travel restriction. Member states can lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travellers.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending