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Proposed “TRIPS” Waiver Is the WRONG Way To Attack Global Access for Vaccines to Developing Countries

BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath urges USTR to work -with- industry to solve problem without forfeiting trade secrets

April 20, 2021
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Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai sharing BIO perspectives regarding the proposed WTO “TRIPS waiver” for COVID related products.

The letter, written on behalf of BIO members, notes BIO’s strong support for the equitable distribution of vaccines globally as called for by Ambassador Tai, and outlines steps that the U.S. government should take, working with industry, to facilitate that goal.  The letter also makes clear industry concerns that the proposed TRIPS waiver would hinder rather than help global cooperative efforts to end the pandemic and could undermine U.S. global competitiveness, which has been so key to developing a quick response to COVID.

Expressing concerns to increasing global access to vaccines, Dr. McMurry-Heath writes that the proposed waiver would “impel countries to try to go it alone in turns of supplying vaccines. This in turn will stretch scarce vaccine inputs and world capacity to the breaking point, and potentially create chaos instead of cooperation in allocating global supplies.”

On effects to U.S. global leadership, she further notes the TRIPS waiver would “give license to other countries – some of them our economic competitors – to hollow-out our world leading biotechnology base, export jobs abroad, and undermine incentives to invest in such technologies in the future.”  She noted that these results would be at odds with the Biden Administration’s “worker centric trade policy.” 

In closing, Dr. McMurry-Heath reiterates that the biopharma industry is “working hard to produce specific, actionable policy proposals that can quickly and effectively expand vaccine capacity and access to patients around the world” and BIO’s commitment to working with USTR and the Biden administration in achieving these goals.

Read the full letter here

See BIO’s comprehensive list of industry partnerships on COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics here.

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