After the US on Wednesday announced that it would support waiving patents on Covid-19 vaccines, the European country of Germany led by Chancellor Angela Merkel has stood up against the waving of the patents by opposing the proposal vehemently. The opposition by Berlin threatens to derail the proposal that requires the consensus of World Trade Organisation members to pass.
A German government spokeswoman reasoned meekly that the main factors in vaccine production are capacity and quality standards, and not patents. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future,” she said in a statement.
The aforementioned statement by Germany comes hot at the heels of similar statements issued by Merkel last month. As reported by TFI, a miffed Merkel had eyed the growing pharmaceutical industry of India and called it the reason why the Germans hadn’t made breakthroughs in the industry.
Lacking acute self-awareness, Merkel lamented that ‘they (Germans) allowed India to become the pharmacy of the world’.
“The truth is, we haven’t treated our pharmaceutical industry so well for many years…I am glad that we still have pharmaceutical production in Belgium, Holland, Germany,” said Merkel
While highlighting the issue of vaccine shortage, she further added, “We now have a situation with India where, in connection with the emergency situation of the pandemic, we are worried whether the pharmaceutical products will still come to us.”
Furthermore, Merkel cautioned, “Of course, we have only allowed India to become such a large pharmaceutical producer in the first place, also from the European side, in the expectation that this should then also be complied with. If that is not the case now, we will have to rethink.”
The simple reason why Germany is causing a bottleneck in the proposal is because it fears India will be able to manufacture vaccines on an even larger scale and eventually export it to countries across the planet, at minimal margins – thereby eating into the shares of German pharma companies that fleece the customers.
The invisible enemy that the entire humanity is currently fighting does not recognise any borders and if Merkel thinks that by vetoing the ‘patent waiver’ proposal, she can help German companies make some quick bucks, then she is sadly mistaken. The virus mutates with alarming frequency and without the entire planet being vaccinated, it will continue to wreak havoc. Germany might be safe for now, but the virus will eventually catch up.
Initially, the US under Democrat President Joe Biden had also refused to grant the vaccine IP. However, the growing discontentment from countries around the planet meant that Biden had to retract his statements.
Washington’s trade representative Katherine Tai on Wednesday said that the US “supported the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.”
“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,” remarked Tai.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also supported the proposal as Moscow registered a single-dose virus shot called Sputnik Light. Hopefully, sense prevails in the Berlin camp and instead of seeing India as a competitor, Merkel sees the rationality behind the decision which could affect the lives of over 7 billion people on the planet.