Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin backs proposal to suspend patents on vaccines

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (May 6) threw his support behind waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines. A campaign to lift patent protections on coronavirus vaccines picked up steam on Thursday, with the EU ‘s top official Ursula von der Leyen saying the bloc is willing to discuss a proposal by U.S. President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday (May 5), US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that while intellectual property rights for businesses are important, the US “supports the waiver of those protections” for COVID-19 vaccine in order to end the pandemic.

“We are hearing from Europe an idea that, in my opinion, deserves attention — namely, to remove patent protections from vaccines against Covid-19 altogether,” the Russian leader said during a televised meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova. “Russia would of course support such an approach,” Putin added.”As I have said many times… We should not think about how to extract maximum profit, but about how to ensure people’s safety.”

Outside of the EU, the UK government said it was “in discussions with the US and WTO members to facilitate increased production and supply of Covid-19 vaccines”. South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are also among other countries voicing support for the proposal. The original proposal for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO) was submitted last year by India and South Africa.

Supporters of waivers for vaccines argue that poor countries face acute vaccine shortages while rich countries protect the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical giants. But opponents, including drug makers said the proposal could stifle innovation. Germany on Thursday voiced opposition to the US call for a patent waiver, saying that intellectual property isn’t an issue when it comes to the pace of the vaccinations, but the production capacities and the matter of ensuring the quality.

Russia has registered three coronavirus vaccines, and on Thursday approved a fourth — a single-dose version of its Sputnik V jab called Sputnik Light.

With reporting by The Moscow Times, Reuters, BBC