COVID-19 — EU mobilises aid to India but rejects vaccine IP waiver
Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission is to mobilise an additional 2.2 billion euro to support India as it struggles to cope with the drastic surge of COVID-19 cases. The EU’s executive announcement comes a week after the European Parliament’s rejected a proposal to suspend COVID-19 vaccines intellectual property (IP) waivers for India and South Africa.
MEP José Gusmāo (GUE-NGL) described the Parliament’s vote rejecting the vaccine IP waiver as “disappointing”.
The amendment was rejected on 28 April by 454 votes to 162. With few exceptions, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the socialists (S&D) and the liberals (Renew Europe) voted against the proposal.
“A vote to remember when these parties lament the slowness of vaccination or the appearance of variants from other continents, where vaccination has barely begun and where the virus runs free”, Gusmāo tweeted.
Meanwhile, the additional funding announced by the Commission will support a World Health Organisation (WHO) six-month case management programme for COVID-19 patients, in addition to strengthening laboratory capacity for COVID-19 testing.
“We are providing additional EU support towards the fight against COVID-19 in India. This comes on top of the generous and swift assistance from EU member states that stepped up as part of Team Europe to offer critical supplies of oxygen, ventilators and medicines over the last few days”, Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, announced in a 5 May press statement.
India appealed for a suspension of IP rights for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines in a proposal it submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a year ago, a request that since gained the support of more than 100 countries.
The EPP group in the Parliament expressed “fully agreement” that vaccinations needed to speed up in developing countries, but claimed that while “waiving the intellectual property rights looks like a good solution, it is not”.
US supports IP waiver
The US had declared its support for a COVID-19 vaccine IP waiver to help end the pandemic.
“These extraordinary times and circumstances call for extraordinary measures”, US Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai, declared in announcing that the US will participate in WTO negotiations to make that happen.
With the rich nations having acquired most of the global supply of COVID-19 doses, US President Joe Biden has come under increasing pressure to agree to waivers so that vaccine manufacturers can ramp up production and increase vaccine distribution to more countries.