Biden: Waive intellectual property protections so vaccines can be manufactured globally

US president says concern over new variant shows ‘importance of moving on this quickly’

US president Joe Biden. File photograph: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg

US president Joe Biden. File photograph: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg

 

The Biden administration in the United States will next week press countries around the world to agree that intellectual property protections should be waived so Covid-19 vaccines can be manufactured globally.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that the emergence of the new Omicron variant “should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations”.

He said the US had already donated more vaccines to other nations than every other country combined.

He said it was now time “for other countries to match America’s speed and generosity”.

Mr Biden said: “In addition, I call on the nations gathering next week for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to meet the US challenge to waive intellectual property protections for Covid vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally.”

The president said he had endorsed this position last April and that the news of the concerns regarding the new variant “reiterates the importance of moving on this quickly”.

He said his administration was introducing new travel restrictions on nations in southern Africa on Friday as a “precautionary measure” until more information was known about the new Covid-19 variant.

The Biden administration is to impose fresh travel restrictions on nations in southern Africa, joining efforts by other countries to try and slow the spread of the potentially potent new Covid-19 variant.

The administration will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries.

In addition to South Africa, the restrictions affect Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The policy does not apply to American citizens and lawful permanent residents, though they must still test negative before travel to the US, according to administration officials.

Mr Biden was speaking in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he is spending the Thanksgiving holiday.