Spain backs vaccine patent waiver, calls for more international cooperation

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Santa Fe
A worker of Bidafarma shows a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Spanish pharmaceutical distributor 'Bidafarma' Granada warehouse, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Santa Fe, near Granada, southern Spain February 1, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

MADRID, May 6 (Reuters) - The Spanish government on Thursday said a U.S. proposal to waive patents on coronavirus vaccines signals the "way forward" but will not be enough to guarantee supplies to developing countries. read more

Approving such a suspension of intellectual property rights would take time and, in the meantime, pharmaceutical companies should be flexible in granting voluntary licences, it said in a working paper entitled Vaccines for All. read more

The paper, which Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is due to present on Friday at a European Union summit in Porto, calls for the removal of trade barriers and logistical hurdles to reduce a global shortfall in vaccine production.

"Unequal access to vaccines between developed and developing countries is not only at the core of a feeling of injustice, but also poses a health risk for the world," the paper read.

Spain also proposed a platform to monitor global vaccine manufacturing sites and match idle production capacity with demand.

Taking advantage of a slowdown in global air transport, the paper suggests airlines should work with international organisations to play a greater role in vaccine distribution.

Reporting by Nathan Allen Editing by Chris Reese

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