US President Joe Biden has thrown his support behind a proposed World Trade Organisation waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, bowing to mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries.
Mr Biden, who backed a waiver during the 2020 presidential campaign, voiced his support after a speech at the White House.
His chief trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, issued a statement shortly after Mr Biden spoke, announcing the administration’s support for the proposed measure.
It will temporarily waive certain IP rights to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Ms Tai said.
“The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”
WTO seeks consensus on temporary waiver
Ms Tai said the US would be involved in negotiations at the WTO to ensure the waiver could happen, but cautioned those negotiations would take time.
WTO decisions require a consensus of all members.
The US and several other countries had previously blocked negotiations at the WTO about the waiver proposal led by India and South Africa aimed at helping developing countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines using the IP of pharmaceutical companies.