Vietnam calls for Covid-19 vaccine patent waivers

By Vu Anh   May 13, 2021 | 03:55 am PT
Vietnam calls for Covid-19 vaccine patent waivers
Vials of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech at a vaccination center in Italy. Photo by AFP.
Vietnam is calling for countries to share information and lift patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines so they are available to the whole world, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

"To open up the opportunity to contain this dangerous pandemic, Vietnam wishes that countries share information and lift patent protection on Covid-19 vaccines so they could soon be widely available in all countries around the world," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said Thursday.

She was responding to inquiries on the recently announced U.S. support for waiving Covid-19 vaccine patent rights, which could allow more firms to produce the vaccines around the world.

Vietnam is currently carrying out research and development of its own domestic Covid-19 vaccines, Hang said at a press meet.

"Covid-19 vaccines produced by Vietnam are expected to be used in 2022. We are staying proactive in securing vaccine sources and maintaining medical security to prepare for potential pandemics in the future," she said.

Vietnam is currently producing four domestic Covid-19 vaccines: Nanocovax by Nanogen, Covivac by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and two others by the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

U.S Trade Representative Katherine Tai had on May 5 announced that Washington supports the lifting of patent protection on Covid-19 vaccines to end the pandemic, despite the importance of such patents for pharma businesses.

However, she also warned that negotiations to realize such a vision would take a lot of time as the World Trade Organization's (WTO) decisions are normally taken on a consensus basis.

The U.S.'s proposal has received support from over 120 countries and territories.

Vietnam has already rolled out its Covid-19 vaccination campaign since March. It has inoculated over 942,000 people in 62 cities and provinces, or 1 percent of the country's population, with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The country aims to secure 150 million vaccine doses in total to cover 70 percent of its population.

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