Ramaphosa on why Biden’s new Covid-19 vaccine announcement is important

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the support of the United States’ Biden-Harris Administration after it gave its support to a temporary and targeted waiver of intellectual property protections that apply to Covid-19 vaccines.

In a statement on Wednesday (5 May), Biden’s government said it believed strongly in intellectual property protections.

However, in service of ending the pandemic, the US said it would support the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines at forthcoming negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Ramaphosa said that Biden’s position is an important reinforcement of a campaign led by South Africa and India on behalf of emerging economies that face vaccine shortages and production challenges.

“The anticipated temporary waiver provides a global response to Covid-19. The proposal establishes a global solution to enhance manufacturing and boost supply capacity, and enables coordination and access to information currently under patent protection,” he said.

For countries that do not currently have manufacturing capacity on certain medical technologies, the waiver could open up more supply options and avoid countries being reliant on only one or two suppliers, Ramaphosa said.

“Where supply-capacity currently exists, it can be repurposed to Covid-vaccine production and in this way improve the supply available to all nations. ”

Ramaphosa said the coming WTO negotiations provide the global community, and especially leading economies, with both an opportunity and the challenge to act in the best interest of all humanity.

“This can be achieved by focusing on the moral, legal and economic benefits of providing urgent, affordable and equitable protection to all people around the world in the face of a grave and indiscriminate threat to life and economic sustainability.

“In light of the growing global consensus, we call on pharmaceutical companies to facilitate sharing of know-how and technology to enable a rapid increase in supply-capacity in order to save lives.”

Read: India’s struggle to track new Covid variants could worsen crisis

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Ramaphosa on why Biden’s new Covid-19 vaccine announcement is important