All Democrats who are among the primary recipients of Congressional pharmaceutical industry money have yet to approve the waiver of intellectual property rights rules for COVID-19 vaccines that many experts say do. obstacle to necessary production.
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) Plans to unveil a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday calling on the White House to temporarily lift trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) that prevent many developing countries from making COVID vaccines -19 or treatments. The letter specifically calls on Biden to heed the calls from India, South Africa and nearly 100 other developing countries seeking the waiver as they face COVID-19 crises with far fewer resources.
A total of 110 of 218 House Democrats, including Schakowsky, signed the letter, guaranteeing it will have the support of a majority of the House Democratic caucus.
But none of the nine House Democrats among Congress 25 first recipients donations from pharmaceutical industry PACs during the 2020 election cycle signed the letter.
Like HuffPost reported Last Wednesday, Democratic Representatives Scott Peters (Calif.) And Ron Kind (Wisconsin) – No.7 and 19, respectively, on the Top 25 list – actually asked for support for another letter to Biden asking him to do not waive intellectual property rules.
HuffPost has contacted the remaining seven Democrats on the list to ask them why they are not supporting the waiver of intellectual property.
Offices of the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee of the Frank Pallone House of New Jersey (No.4), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Richard Neal of Massachusetts (No.6) and representatives Anna Eshoo of California (# 9), Brad Schneider of Illinois (# 20), Kurt Schrader of Oregon (# 22) and Raul Ruiz of California (# 25) did not respond to requests. comments from HuffPost.
The office of Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, another major recipient of PAC contributions from the pharmaceutical industry and co-chair of the influential centrist Blue Dog Coalition, also did not respond.
While agreeing with the overall objective, it is not clear whether the current general TRIPS waiver is the fastest way to achieve this, given the complexities of manufacturing and access to materials. raw.
Rachel Kingery, spokesperson for Representative Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)
A spokesperson for Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois (No.17) made a statement that reflected what the pharmaceutical industry itself has said in opposition to the temporary waiver: that it would not alleviate the current shortage. vaccines.
“While agreeing with the overall objective, it is not clear that the current general TRIPS waiver is the quickest method to achieve this, given the complexities of manufacturing and access to raw materials, ”said spokesperson Rachel Kingery. “Congresswoman Kelly believes American companies should step up domestic production, help other countries develop effective COVID-19 vaccines, and increase funding for COVAX to protect global health.”
COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing effort sponsored by rich countries, has drawn criticism for its slow deployment of vaccines. While the world needs an additional 9 billion doses of vaccine to meet the goal of delivering 10 billion doses by the end of the year, COVAX has only distributed 49 million doses of the vaccine. nowadays.
Supporters of the waiver, which would both allow developing countries to reproduce patented technologies without fear of legal reprisals and empower them to negotiate voluntary partnerships with US and European drug makers, insist that it does so. is necessary if the world is to have any hope. containing COVID-19 as it continues to mutate.
Rather than reflecting genuine concerns that a waiver will not be a panacea for the vaccine shortage, these advocates argue that the big pharmaceutical companies simply do not want to sell the drugs in poorer countries at reduced prices or risk opening the door to generic competition in the poorest countries. richer nations.
“Pharma’s greed means that they are effectively blocking the manufacture of needed supplies,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
In the Senate, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Also sent a letter to Biden approving the patent waiver that drew support from nine other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Even pivotal central senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) has expressed his openness to the idea.
HuffPost contacted Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Whose panel has jurisdiction over international trade, and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), A confidant of Biden, for ask them to explain why they did it again. sign Sanders’ letter or otherwise indicate interest in relinquishing the COVID-19 vaccine patents. None of them responded.
Coons, who ranks 16th among recipients of anyone’s pharmaceutical industry PAC money in Congress – and the only Democratic senator to make the top 25 in the 2020 election cycle – has gone out of his way to defend the continuation intellectual property rules in place.
Speaking alongside pharmaceutical executives at an April event at the Center for Strategic International Studies, a Washington think tank, Coons said he was “very concerned” about “the external and internal attack” on the US intellectual property regime.
He reiterated the pharmaceutical industry’s talking point that disclosing intellectual property is not a “critical obstacle” to making enough COVID-19 vaccines and concluded by arguing that patents and the like vehicles that effectively grant monopolies to drug makers are essential for the United States. China and to counter the “divisive” environment presented on January 6 when the US Capitol was attacked.
“A central element in being successful in this competition is to continue with our constitutionally protected property right to a patent,” Coons said.
Coons’ speech was enough to spark a rarity for any Democrat: a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which prayed that on intellectual property Biden “ignore the left and heed Mr. Coons” “.
Wallach did the opposite, warning that if Biden doesn’t do everything in his power to vaccinate the world, he risks suffering a resurgence of the pandemic that ultimately reaches American shores.
“Biden gets really good marks – even from a lot of Republicans – on how he took COVID,” Wallach said. “All of that positivity and health gains could be lost if they’re not careful and a vaccine-resistant variant ends up brewing elsewhere, inevitably spreading around the world and we all find ourselves locked in again.”
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