World News

U.S. backs pandemic resolution at WHO but rejects patent wording - statement

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with restaurant executives and industry leaders during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic meeting in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday joined consensus on a European Union resolution on the global handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but quickly distanced itself from its wording on intellectual property and reproductive health services.

In a statement, the U.S. mission to the U.N. in Geneva said the pandemic review would ensure “complete and transparent understanding of the source of the virus, timeline of events ... and the decision-making process for the WHO’s response”.

But it had to “disassociate” itself from the references in the pandemic resolution to intellectual property under the so-called “TRIPS” agreement that allows for compulsory licensing of medicines and vaccines during a health emergency.

Such language would “send the wrong message to innovators who will be essential to the solutions the whole world needs”, the U.S. statement said. The Trump administration “believes in legal protections for the unborn”, and it could not accept the idea of an international right to abortion, it added.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans