A woman lies in a crowded ward for Coronavirus patients in India
The Biden Administration debates how to pursue global Coronavirus vaccinations amid a record surge in India.
Encouraged by activists and progressives, some Administration officials are considering an international petition to waive the patents of drug companies.
The White House’s top coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai considered the step last week. Fauci presented the benefits of sharing technologies from companies with patents.
The doctor’s recommendation supports a proposal at the World Trade Organization, led by India and South Africa, halting enforcement of a group of coronavirus-related patents.
“People with knowledge of White House deliberations” said Tai told colleagues that she is considering support of the lifting of some patent protections but is still gathering information.
Fauci said last weekend:
The only way that you’re going to adequately respond to a global pandemic is by having a global response, and a global response means equity throughout the world.
And that’s something that, unfortunately, has not been accomplished.
President Joe Biden authorized a plan last week to send up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine abroad.
But the scale of the task has been highlighted by India, with its 1.38 billion people, as deaths have risen more than 3,500% and cases reached a global daily record of 386,555 on Friday.
The country recorded 3,498 deaths yesterday, taking its total to more than 208,000. Confirmed cases are more than 18.8 million. About 9% of the population has been vaccinated, compared to 43% in the US.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the patent issue on Monday in a call with Biden. Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote the President, “In light of this growing humanitarian crisis, I urge you to leverage all tools and resources available to the United States to provide relief to India.”
US officials in the Commerce Department and the Coronavirus Task Force are arguing against waivers, saying that they will give intellectual property to international rivals and that competition by new manufacturers for vaccine ingredients and expertise will hinder production.
They have proposed an extension of Biden’s provision of doses abroad.
People in nations with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated about 25 times faster than those with the lowest. The richest 27 countries have 37.4% of global vaccinations, compared to 10.5% of population. The US alone, with more than half of adults inoculated, has 22.7% of vaccinations for 4.3% of the world’s people.
The World Health Organization reported a record 5.7 million new global cases last week, an increase of 8% from the previous week.