India and South Africa on Thursday welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden's support for a proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines in order to quickly ramp up production of doses worldwide to make them available to more people.
India and South Africa have led a proposal at the WTO to waive protections for some patents and technology covered under the intellectual property rights clause and boost vaccine production in developing countries.
"We are appreciative of U.S. support," foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the support of the United States administration for a temporary and targeted waiver of intellectual property protections that applies to COVID-19 vaccines.
The US government had announced on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic was a global health crisis which called for extraordinary measures.
“President Ramaphosa welcomes the position adopted by the US as an important reinforcement of a campaign led by South Africa and India on behalf of emerging economies that face vaccine shortage and production challenges,” the statement from the presidency said.
The US said it believed strongly in intellectual property protections. However, in service of ending the pandemic, it would at forthcoming negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) support the waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
President Ramaphosa said the forthcoming WTO negotiations provide the global community and especially leading economies with both an opportunity and the challenge to act in the best interest of all humanity.
The US had earlier blocked the proposal but in a welcome move changed its stand to step up the war on Covid-19 which is surging relentlessly around the world. The developing countries currently have less than 1% of the vaccines that have been produced by multinational pharma giants such as Pfizer and Moderna.