U.S. Trade Chief Meets Pfizer, AstraZeneca About Vaccine Supply

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U.S. trade chief Katherine Tai met with key officials at Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc about raising production of Covid-19 vaccines and a proposed waiver of intellectual-property protections as the daily number of confirmed cases keeps rising.

Tai met virtually with Ruud Dobber, the executive vice-president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, and separately with Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in statements Monday.

U.S. Trade Chief Meets Pfizer, AstraZeneca About Vaccine Supply

India and South Africa have proposed that the World Trade Organization waive broad sections of the its intellectual-property rules and to try to forge an agreement on how patents developed in the race against Covid-19 should be recognized.

The pharmaceutical companies say they are working to expand global capacity already, and argue that the fastest way for the U.S. to help developing countries is by giving them the stockpile of vaccines it already has, like tens of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca jab, which hasn’t been approved for U.S. use.

The U.S. announced Monday it would share its entire AstraZeneca supply with other countries and readied an aid package for India, as President Joe Biden pivots to ramp up U.S. pandemic assistance to the rest of the world. The Asian nation is working to combat the largest surge of infections globally.

Tai “emphasized her commitment to working with other WTO members on a global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the role of developing countries in any solution that addresses critical gaps in global production and distribution of vaccines,” according to the statement.

Bourla “shared his views on the vital importance of enhancing global access to the vaccine and how trade policy could help address the challenges of increasing vaccine production and distribution around the world,” the USTR said. Dobber spoke about the challenges with raising output and distribution, it said.

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