WASHINGTON (AP) – Ten Liberal senators are urging President Joe Biden to support India ավային the World Trade Organization of South Africa in temporarily easing intellectual property laws so that coronavirus vaccines can be produced by countries fighting for their population.
Lawmakers wrote in a letter to the White House on Thursday evening that Biden should “prioritize the profits of the pharmaceutical company” and support a temporary waiver of the rules. Refusal may pave the way for more vaccines to be developed by the general or other manufacturers.
The letter was led by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Sherod Brown of Ohio. The letter was signed by Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Edward Markin of Massachusetts, FF Merkel of Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Rafael Waror of Georgia.
“Simply put, we need to make vaccines, tests and treatments available everywhere if we are going to crack down on the virus anywhere,” the lawmakers said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
More than 100 countries are backing the temporary waiver, which could help boost vaccine production in poorer countries struggling to stockpile vaccines. The Biden administration has said it is looking into the matter.
Opponents, including pharmaceutical companies, fear it could set a dangerous precedent by allowing scientists around the world to copy US-European research, some of which was funded by the US government long before the patents expired. The Trump administration was opposed to the calls.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawmakers’ appeal to Biden came after a group of 170 former world leaders and Nobel laureates sent a similar letter to Biden earlier this week urging him to defend his temporary waiver of WHO intellectual property rules.
The coronavirus epidemic has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide, including more than 170,000 in India and more than 50,000 in South Africa, according to Johns Hopkins University.