IMF Sees Strong Economic Arguments for Removing Vaccine Barriers

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The International Monetary Fund sees strong economic arguments for removing barriers to vaccine production and distribution, while cautioning that a waiver on intellectual-property protections must be accompanied by other measures.

Scaling up production is the fastest way to bring an end to the crisis, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday in a European University Institute online event, responding to a question on the U.S.’s support and Germany’s opposition to the waiver. Still, a temporary suspension for rules at the World Trade Organization must be paired with both a transparent process for allocating doses and anti-counterfeiting measures, she said.

“Making it possible to scale up production is one contributor” to ending the crisis “sooner rather than later,” Georgieva said. Still, a waiver for 18 months or two years, as some have proposed, “is not a silver bullet; it does require these other two aspects of transparency and measures to prevent counterfeiting vaccines, which by the way has already happened in a couple of places,” she said.

Georgieva reiterated that the fund sees a $9 trillion benefit to the world economy through 2025 if faster progress can be made in ending the crisis.

The U.S., Germany and other countries will take up debate over the idea at the WTO in the coming weeks, pitting the plan to share proprietary know-how against the need to boost global supplies, especially in developing countries that have struggled to get their populations inoculated. The U.S. came out in favor of the proposal for the waiver Wednesday, with the Germany government Thursday saying it’s in opposition.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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