U.S. Chamber opposes WTO waiver of vaccine intellectual property rights

FILE PHOTO: The word 'COVID-19' is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday said it opposed calls for the World Trade Organization to back a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights to speed coronavirus vaccine production in poor countries, calling them “misguided”.

In a statement, the influential U.S. business lobby said it supported new WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s proposal to encourage more licensing agreements to produce vaccines.

“Proposals to waive intellectual property rights are misguided and a distraction from the real work of reinforcing supply chains and assisting countries to procure, distribute and administer vaccines to billions of the world’s citizens,” the Chamber said in the statement. “Diminishing intellectual property rights would make it more difficult to quickly develop and distribute vaccines or treatments in the future pandemics the world will face.”

Reporting by David Lawder