EU executive submits vaccine access proposal to WTO

FILE PHOTO: An employee works at the factory of U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer during a visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured) to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine, in Puurs, Belgium April 23, 2021. John Thys /Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has submitted to the World Trade Organization a plan it believes will more effectively broaden supply of COVID-19 vaccines than the intellectual property (IP) rights waiver backed by the United States.

India, South Africa and dozens of developing countries are demanding an IP rights waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments to address what they say is a “staggering inequity” in access to what they argue should be global public goods.

The European Commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation EU, said on Friday it had submitted an alternative, stressing limits on export restrictions and existing WTO rules allowing countries to grant licences to producers.

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