The Biden administration declared on Wednesday that it supports lifting intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccinations.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Twitter that “extraordinary times and circumstances call for extraordinary measures” adding that the United States accepts exemptions of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccinations “to help end the pandemic” and will engage in World Trade Organization agreements to promote waivers.
“This is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. 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,” she said.
Tai continued that the goal of the Biden administration is to “get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.”
“As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the Administration will continue to ramp up its efforts — working with the private sector and all possible partners — to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines,” she said.
Following the announcement, the stocks of pharmaceutical firms engaged in vaccine manufacturing plummeted, with Moderna falling 6.19 percent, BioNTech falling 3.45 percent, and Johnson & Johnson falling 0.42 percent. Pfizer’s shares ended the day unchanged, up 0.05 percent.
The statement came only one day after Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that the United States intends to see 70% of adults receiving at least one vaccination dose and 160 million individuals completely vaccinated by July 4.
It also coincides with a global increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in India, which reported 800,000 new cases in two days last week, with only 5% of citizens vaccinated and supplies in short supply.