This could help give the coronavirus vaccination campaign a big boost, globally, as the European Union (EU) projects to have vaccinated 70% of its adult population by the end. July.
This Thursday, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced in a videoconference speech that the Union was "ready to discuss" the American proposal to lift intellectual property protections on Covid vaccines, in order to '' accelerate its production and distribution.
Until now, the EU has not said it is in favor, arguing that this solution would take time, due to a lack of immediately mobilizable means of production.
But Brussels had recently seemed to open the door.
Read also Covid-19: lift patents on vaccines, the idea that divides the world
“The EU is ready to discuss any proposal that would tackle the crisis effectively and pragmatically.
We are ready to discuss how the US proposal can achieve this goal, ”said Ursula von der Leyen, who called“ immediately ”all vaccine-producing countries“ to allow exports and avoid all restrictions that could disrupt supply chains ”.
The German, however, recalled that the EU was for the time being "the main exporter of vaccines in the world" and called on other producing countries to lift their restrictions on exporting their doses.
A spike in the United Kingdom, which de facto has not exported any dose manufactured on its soil, and especially in the United States, where a presidential decision strictly blocks the export of vaccines and restricts that of vaccine components.
The Biden administration at the forefront
Conversely, "the EU exports to more than 90 countries", from Japan to Colombia via Mexico, which makes it "the pharmacy of the world" and "the only democratic region to export on a large scale" , she said, recalling that "more than 200 million doses produced in Europe have been exported, or as many vaccines as the EU has provided to its own citizens".
On Wednesday, Joe Biden's administration said it was in favor of lifting patents on anti-Covid vaccines and announced its intention to "provide as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as possible as quickly as possible" .
"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," said US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
"The administration firmly believes in intellectual property protections, but to end this pandemic, it supports the lifting of these protections for vaccines against Covid-19," she said, adding that Washington was participating " actively ”in the negotiations carried out in this regard at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
A temporary lifting of patents is particularly demanded by India and South Africa to be able to speed up production, but some countries, including France, are fiercely opposed.
A production that would start "within a year to 14 months"
In France too, the question is regularly discussed.
On March 16, in the Hemicycle, the LFI deputy François Ruffin, addressed the Minister of Health Olivier Véran: “You refused to allow the vaccine to be a global public good!
It was a commitment from Emmanuel Macron.
And yet, last week at the WTO, France said no to the lifting of patents.
The truth is, even during Covid, commerce still trumps health.
"Mr. Deputy, we do more than lift the ownership of a laboratory in the field of patents, we ensure that all companies capable of producing vaccines in this country and on European territory produce vaccines, including for the account of laboratories which are not their own laboratories ”, the person had replied.
“When you have Sanofi which produces vaccines for competing laboratories, do you think it fell from the sky? Do you think Sanofi watched a YouTube video of Mr. Ruffin and thought Ahlala, are we going to produce foreign vaccines? “, Also quipped Olivier Véran. "A patent transfer would see production start within a year to 14 months […] Next year, when we have succeeded in increasing the production of our factories, this question may be asked," Thierry Breton indicated on Monday. European Commissioner for the Internal Market.