Washington (CNN)Divisions within the Biden administration persist over whether to ease some patent restrictions on vaccines, according to people familiar with the matter, as the President nears a decision on loosening some intellectual property rules on pharmaceutical products, a move that could expand global vaccine supply.
Officials said an announcement on the administration’s position could come over the next 48 hours as the World Trade Organization begins a meeting to discuss the matter. President Joe Biden has faced similar scrutiny over how and when he will distribute surplus vaccines doses abroad, with some advocates accusing him of not doing enough to help struggling countries like India vaccinate their populations.
The patent debate has pitted some of the administration’s health and development experts against those inside the White House who are wary of angering major drug manufacturers like Pfizer and Moderna, whose products have allowed the country to begin returning to normal, according to people familiar with the internal dynamics.
Others inside the administration are concerned at the optics of Biden reversing a pledge he made as a candidate to “absolutely positively” commit to sharing vaccine technology if elected president. And some have voiced concern at appearing overly deferential to big pharmaceutical companies against the wishes of progressives.
One option that has emerged, according to officials, is using the patent issue as leverage with vaccine makers to nudge them into ramping up global manufacturing capacity and donating or selling doses at drastically reduced cost.
The debate has landed at the feet of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who has been gathering information on the topic before representing the United States at a meeting of the World Trade Organization’s General Council that gets underway Wednesday. The White House said Tai woul
Biden team divided on vaccine patent waivers
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