EU says US stand on patent virus waiver is no ‘magic bullet’

European Union leaders have cranked up their criticism of the U.S. call to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents, arguing the move would bring no short or midterm relief

PORTO, Portugal — European Union leaders cranked up their criticism of the U.S. call to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents Saturday, arguing the move would bring no short or midterm relief. They instead urged Washington to lift export restrictions if it wants to have a global impact on the pandemic.

“We don’t think, in the short term, that it’s the magic bullet,” said EU Council President Charles Michel on the second day of an EU summit in Portugal. French President Emmanuel Macron insisted that giving any priority to discussing intellectual property rights now, “is a false debate.”

“We encourage all the partners to facilitate the export of (vaccine) doses,” said Michel.

The EU is trying to regain the diplomatic initiative on vaccines after Biden put it on the back foot with his surprising endorsement of lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines, seeking to solve the problem of getting shots into the arms of people in poorer countries.

Macron and other EU leaders have insisted that first of all production capacity must be ramped up by, among other things, reconverting factories so they can quickly start producing vaccines through a transfer of technology. Developed nations should also increase vaccine donations to poorer countries.

Only after that, Macron said, can the debate on patent waivers start having an impact.

“Today, there is not a factory in the world that cannot produce doses for poor countries because of a patent issue,” Macron said.

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Casert reported from Brussels.

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