World leaders weigh in on COVID-19 vaccine waiver

World leaders are weighing in after the U.S. said it would support suspending patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to boost global production.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she was opposed to waiving those protections, arguing it could jeopardize the quality of shots against the disease.

"I made it clear that I do not believe that giving away patents is the solution to make vaccines available to more people. If a patent is given away and the quality is no longer controlled I see more risk than chance."

Speaking to reporters before the second day of an EU summit in the Portuguese city of Porto, the chairman of EU leaders Charles Michel said the way to fight the pandemic now was to quickly make more shots and lift export curbs on them in countries like the United States and Britain that make vaccines but do not sell them to others. A sentiment echoed by Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron.

But Pope Francis on Saturday said he supported the waiver.

In a speech to a global fundraising concert to promote fair access to vaccines, the pope said the world was infected with the "virus of individualism" which prevents, quote "an internationalism of vaccines."

U.S President Joe Biden backed a move to suspend patent protection for vaccines on Wednesday, heeding calls from India, South Africa and more than 100 other countries - over the objections of pharmaceutical companies.

Skeptics of the proposal argue that the time it would take to get the World Trade Organization to agree on the measure and to build expanded vaccine-making capacity would be slow to be a timely solution to the world's coronavirus caseload, anyway.

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