U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA-01) and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) this month wrote U.S. President Joe Biden and expressed concerns about the president’s support for waiving Intellectual Property (IP) protections related to the COVID-19 vaccines.
This, according to a newsletter that Carter emailed his constituents.
“Waiving the IP protections for the COVID-19 vaccines will be a disaster. The insane move from the Biden Administration not only counters our patent system, it will stifle the innovation of lifesaving drugs and cures by removing the incentives for investment,” Carter said.
“It is also a gift to China who has spent decades trying to steal American innovation, and who spent all last year trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine IP. We cannot allow this to happen.”
Members of Carter’s staff published the letter to Biden on the congressman’s website.
“We remain committed to working together to address the global needs of vaccine distribution, but this proposed waiver will not help us meet that goal. Intellectual Property (IP) protections have fostered life-saving biomedical innovation, strengthened the U.S. economy, created millions of good paying jobs, and made our country the world leader in the development of cutting-edge diagnostics, treatments, and cures. We firmly believe that waiving these IP protections will prove to be disastrous and counterproductive in our fight against this global pandemic and urge you in the strongest possible terms to rescind your support for this policy,” according to the letter.
“The real challenges in fighting the pandemic include tackling major logistical, manufacturing, and health care delivery hurdles. Weakening IP rules will not solve any of these challenges. The United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) announcement is deeply disappointing and will do nothing to accelerate the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Quite the contrary, waiving the IP protections would only serve to undermine innovation and make it even more difficult for industry to respond to both the current pandemic and future health emergencies. Moreover, if implemented, the proposal could have the opposite effect, by reducing the availability of critical raw materials necessary to manufacture these vaccines. Recently, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the notion of waiving global IP protection because of the additional hurdles it would cause in the manufacture of these vaccines. Chancellor’s Merkel’s opposition underscores the dangers of this policy.”
The letter told Biden to “instead focus on addressing the actual reasons behind the global unavailability of COVID-19 vaccines.”
“Instead of spending time on negotiations with the WTO that prolong the worldwide pandemic response, we should work to ship stockpiled vaccines to those countries whose regulatory authorities have approved them. We should also seek to expand the domestic production of vaccines to ensure a secure supply chain, create American jobs, and increase the supply abroad. Manufacturers have already worked diligently to scale up their capacity and taken the unprecedented step of entering into agreements with their competitors to increase vaccine supply. While the Administration pushes these waivers, vaccine manufacturers have been diligently working with other countries to address their vaccine needs,” according to the letter.
“Importantly, the proposal also threatens American jobs and undermines the long-term competitiveness of our biopharmaceutical industry by allowing countries like China to profit from our innovation. The Chinese government, as part of its Made in China 2025 Plan, is intent on expanding its domestic production of biomedical products, largely through theft of American technology and innovation. Indeed, according to both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, the Chinese government has been engaged in a sophisticated and wide-ranging effort to steal American COVID-19 vaccine research – particularly mRNA technology, an area in which China is lagging far behind. And yet, even as the FBI and DHS investigate and express concerns about China’s action to acquire this information and technology, USTR has proposed voluntarily gifting it to China.”
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