Bernie Sanders congratulates Biden for putting ‘people before profits’ by releasing Covid vaccine patents

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<p>Bernie Sanders celebrated the Biden administration’s support for the temporary lifting of the patent on the coronavirus vaccine.</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders celebrated the Biden administration’s support for the temporary lifting of the patent on the coronavirus vaccine.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Senator Bernie Sanders has applauded President Joe Biden for vocalising his support for the sharing of COVID-19 vaccination patents.

The Biden administration’s decision follows international pressure, and from some US politicians like Mr Sanders, who previously urged Mr Biden to support the move.

In a statement, the Independent senator from Vermont said, “I applauded President Biden and his administration for taking this bold step in response to the world’s most urgent crisis. Our vaccinations efforts at home will only be successful if vaccinations efforts in the developing world happen simultaneously.

“Supporting this waiver, and putting people over profits, will help us do that by speeding up the production and availability of vaccines.”

Mr Sanders’ praise comes after the US government announced that it supported waiving the intellectual property claims for coronavirus vaccines in an effort to increase access around the globe.

“These extraordinary times and circumstances call for extraordinary measures,” Katherine Tai, the US trade ambassador, said in a statement.

She stated the Biden administration “believes strongly intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections”.

Currently, the World Trade Organisation is considering putting a temporary block on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which has largely enabled pharmaceutical companies to establish a monopoly on vaccine development. This power over the vaccine supply chain has arguably blocked poorer countries from increasing their supplies.

Alongside 100 developing nations, a number of aid organisations and government figures have spoken out about vaccine equity. That includes Tedros Adhanom, the director general of the World Health Organisation, whom Sanders’ statement acknowledged.

“I also recognise the dedicated work done by activists in communities around the world to put this issue on the global agenda. We are all in this together,” Mr Sanders’ statement read.

There is significant concern over the increase of variants and the various vaccinations not offering adequate protection.

Throughout the span of the pandemic, multiple variants have been identified across the world, in places such as Brazil, the UK and South Africa. Experts are concerned about the situation in India, which on Wednesday recorded more than 412,000 cases, sparking concern about the effectiveness of the vaccines to combat the virus.

Last month, Sanders pushed the US government for action on the matter. On 16 April, he signed an open letter, alongside other senators such as Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Raphael Warnock, urging the White House to “prioritize people over pharmaceutical company profits” and push for a short term loosening of intellectual property rights.

“Simply put, we must make vaccines, testing and treatments accessible everywhere if we are going to crush the virus anywhere,” the letter read.

Those who oppose the lifting of the patent believe it sets a worrying precedent by permitting their research to be copied by other scientists, a line shared by the previous government led by President Donald Trump.

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