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WTO chief "warmly welcomes" U.S. vaccine patent waiver proposal Updated: 2021-05-07 13:50:46 KST

The head of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has heaped praise on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai's announcement that Washington supports a temporary lifting on COVID-19 vaccine patents.
In a message read by her spokesman,.. she said she "warmly welcomed" Washington's willingness to issue a temporary waiver as the world has been slammed by a massive resurgence in cases.
The USTR on Wednesday signaled the shift in Washington's position, calling the "global health crisis" an "extraordinary circumstance" that requires extraordinary measures.
That decision was also welcomed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday, who called it a "historic decision" and a "bold move".
He added that, thanks to the decisions made by the U.S., the pandemic will end "as quickly as possible".
The European Union is also willing to discuss a proposal to waive IP rights for vaccines.
According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, Brussels is willing to discuss any proposals that address the crisis "in an effective and pragmatic manner".
Now other countries that have been developing their own vaccines are also throwing their support behind a temporary patent waiver.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he also supported the idea.
According to Putin, the availability of vaccines is not about extracting maximum profit, but about how to ensure safety.
China's foreign ministry also hinted at a possible waiver.
It said it looked “forward to having active and constructive discussions with all parties under the WTO framework in order to reach an effective and equitable agreement.”
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.
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