For the second day in a row, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai heard criticism from U.S. Republican lawmakers that the waiver of intellectual property rights would give critical biopharmaceutical technology to China, Russia and other strategic rivals, all and that it did not increase the supply of vaccines.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Thursday that World Trade Organization negotiations on intellectual property waivers for COVID-19 vaccines are an opportunity for the trade body to be deeply divided. become relevant to the needs of the world.
Tai, in statements to the House Roads and Media Committee, said she was committed to starting negotiations that would take into account concerns of all parties, including pharmaceutical companies.
“The WTO has no record of moving quickly, or reaching the yes, among 164 members that everyone has to agree on, very often,” Tai said. “This is an opportunity for the WTO to show its relevance to humanity.”
For a second day in a row, Tai listened to criticism from Republican lawmakers that the waiver of intellectual property rights would give critical biopharmaceutical technology to China, Russia and other strategic rivals, though it did not increase vaccine supply.
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes told Tai that he worries that China is one of the few countries that could quickly manufacture RNA messenger vaccines, a technology partially developed with U.S. tax dollars.
“It simply came to our notice then [China] I want to steal this new technology, especially with regard to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, ”he said.
Tai said the administration was working to exercise leadership on the issue to try to come up with a life-saving solution and put the world on a faster growth path, which will benefit the US.
India and South Africa, proponents of the much broader original proposal, express “that they feel extremely vulnerable to not having access to the vaccines nor to being able to do so,” Tai said.
On Wednesday, Tai told a Senate hearing that vaccine-making companies could be “a hero” in helping the world have greater access to COVID-19 vaccines.
She declined to discuss the details of her consultations with pharmaceutical companies before announcing the decision to join the WTO waiver negotiations last week, but said some are motivated by more of their obligations to shareholders.
“Some of them see themselves as important players in the world’s public health ecosystem,” he said.
Tai said the waiver of intellectual property was just one of the actions needed to increase the manufacturing and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.