Macron calls on US, UK to stop ‘blocking’ vaccines – POLITICO

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PORTO, Portugal — French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday renewed his call for richer nations to share COVID-19 vaccine doses with poorer nations, and he criticized the U.S. and the U.K. for “blocking” such transfers.

France was the first member of the group of seven rich nations known as G7 to donate doses, but Macron has been under pressure recently for not clearly supporting a proposal to lift intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, an idea which the U.S. backed on Wednesday.

Responding to a question by reporters upon his arrival to the EU Social Summit in Porto, Macron defended his position.

“What’s the issue right now? It’s not really about intellectual property; you can give it to a lab that won’t know how to produce it — the first issue is giving doses,” Macron said. “The second pillar for the vaccines to circulate it’s not to block ingredients and the vaccines, today the Anglo-Saxons are blocking a lot of ingredients and vaccines.”

Over the past year, Macron has been pushing for vaccines to be considered a global public good, and has said wealthier countries should help poor countries buy and receive doses, as well as produce them.

“I am open on this issue, as I have previously said, we’ve been fighting for a year for the vaccine to be a global public good, I’m glad we’re being followed,” Macron said.

The French president has repeatedly said that wealthier countries that are hoarding excess doses should donate what they don’t need, given the bottlenecks in vaccine production. They should also help pharmaceutical companies to transfer their know-how to help set up more production sites across the world that are able to produce the technologically complex vaccines, such those based on mRNA.

In April, France gave 100,000 doses to Mauritania through the international vaccine provision initiative COVAX.

France only started producing vaccine shots in March, after it benefited from a transfer of technologies to produce mRNA vaccines. No French pharmaceutical company or laboratory has so far succeeded in developing an in-house COVID-19 vaccine.

Separately, Macron joined the prime ministers of Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Spain to call for the urgent approval of a European vaccine sharing mechanism, “coupled with a commitment to share doses.” In a May 6 letter to European Council President Charles Michel, obtained by POLITICO, the leaders say that the bloc needs to start donating vaccines even as they try to speed up domestic immunization campaigns, or else “others will fill the vacuum and use vaccines as a geopolitical tool.” (The letter was first noted by the journalist Jorge Valero.)

Jillian Deutsch contributed reporting.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. 





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