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Senators: Waive Vaccine Property Rules 04/16 06:01

   Ten liberal senators are urging President Joe Biden to back India and South 
Africa's appeal to the World Trade Organization to temporarily relax 
intellectual property rules so coronavirus vaccines can be manufactured by 
nations that are struggling to inoculate their populations.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ten liberal senators are urging President Joe Biden to 
back India and South Africa's appeal to the World Trade Organization to 
temporarily relax intellectual property rules so coronavirus vaccines can be 
manufactured by nations that are struggling to inoculate their populations.

   The lawmakers, in a letter delivered to the White House on Thursday evening, 
wrote that Biden should "prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits" 
and support the temporary waiver of the rules. A waiver could pave the way for 
generic or other manufacturers to make more vaccines.

   The letter was led by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, along with 
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin 
and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, 
Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of 
Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Raphael Warnock of Georgia also signed 
the letter.

   "Simply put, we must make vaccines, testing, and treatments accessible 
everywhere if we are going to crush the virus anywhere," the lawmakers say in 
the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

   More than 100 nations support a temporary waiver, which could help vaccine 
manufacturing ramp up in poorer countries that are struggling to acquire 
vaccine supplies. The Biden administration has said it is studying the issue.

   Opponents, including pharmaceutical companies, worry that it would set 
dangerous precedent in allowing scientists around the globe to copy American 
and European companies' research -- some of which was funded by the U.S. 
government -- long before patents expire. The Trump administration had opposed 
calls for the waiver.

   The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the lawmakers' 
letter.

   The lawmakers' appeal to Biden came after a group of 170 former world 
leaders and Nobel laureates earlier this week sent a similar letter to Biden 
urging him to support a temporary waiver of the WTO's intellectual property 
rules.

   The coronavirus pandemic has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide, 
including more than 170,000 in India and more than 50,000 in South Africa, 
according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

 
 
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