As President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday bowed to international grassroots pressure and declared its support for temporarily waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, Sen. Bernie Sanders—who was one of the earliest, and most vocal, advocates of the policy—praised the move.
“Our vaccination efforts here at home will only be successful if vaccination efforts in the developing world happen simultaneously.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
“I applaud President Biden and his administration for taking this bold step in response to the world’s most urgent crisis,” Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. “Our vaccination efforts here at home will only be successful if vaccination efforts in the developing world happen simultaneously.”
“Supporting this waiver, and putting people over profits, will help us to do that by speeding up the production and availability of vaccines,” he continued. “This is exactly the kind of leadership the world needs right now.”
“I also recognize the dedicated work done by activists in communities around the world to put this issue on the global agenda,” Sanders added. “We are all in this together.”
Sanders had led U.S. lawmakers in pushing Biden to support a Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization, an effort spearheaded by India and South Africa. Proponents say such a waiver would accelerate global production and distribution of the life-saving shots. Nearly 70% of U.S. adults and more than 100 nations worldwide support the move.
“It is unconscionable that amid a global health crisis, huge multibillion dollar pharmaceutical companies continue to prioritize profits by protecting their monopolies and driving up prices rather than prioritizing the lives of people everywhere, including in the Global South,” Sanders said in a video last month.
Wednesday’s decision was announced by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement. “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.”