Africa CDC, WHO Welcome U.S. Support for Vaccine-Patent Waiver

The African Union welcomed U.S. backing for a proposal to waive patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines and urged other countries to back the idea.

The Biden administration’s decision is “a remarkable expression of leadership,” Africa Centres for Disease Control & Prevention Director John Nkengasong said in an online briefing Thursday. “My message is an appeal to the international community, to our partners, to please be on the right side of history because history will remember this.”

By supporting the proposal, the U.S. joined an effort to increase global supply and access to the life-saving shots as the gap between rich and poor nations widens. The European Union and China have indicated a willingness to take part in the debate about the waiver, which needs to be agreed upon at the World Trade Organization.

The possibility of making Covid-19 vaccines in Africa is “a very important part of the solution,” the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in a separate briefing. However, “there are other things needed to expand and quickly diversify production” such as readily available ingredients, suitable manufacturers and adequate regulation, she said.

Production on the continent would avert vaccine inequality, which is growing, with the U.S. and many European countries expanding their campaigns to younger age groups, while many African countries struggle to vaccinate vulnerable groups, Moeti said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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