European Union has passed the ball back to US in a debate over Covid vaccine patents, pushing Washington for a concrete proposal and a commitment to export much-needed jabs.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking after a summit of EU and Indian leaders, said the EU had exported much of its own production and that America should follow suit.
“Now that a further part of the American population has been vaccinated, I hope that we can come to a free exchange of components and an opening of the market for vaccines,” she said.
European Council chief Charles Michel said the bloc was ready to discuss a US offer to suspend patent protection on vaccines — once the details are clear.
“We are ready to engage on this topic, as soon as a concrete proposal would be put on the table,” Michel said at an EU summit in Portugal.
He added that the EU had doubts about the idea being a “magic bullet” in the short term.
French President Emmanuel Macron has also declared that “patents are not the priority”.
A debate on the issue could be “a very good idea,” Macron suggested, but he added: “I call very clearly on the United States to put an end to export bans not only on vaccines but on vaccine ingredients, which prevent production.
“The key to producing vaccines more quickly for poor countries and developing countries is to produce more, to lift export bans.”
Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, said the same thing.
“Before getting to the liberalisation of vaccines, other simpler things should be done, such as removing the export block that today the US firstly and the UK continue to maintain,” he said.