MedWatch

EU splits on vaccine patent waivers to cast doubt on US plan

Spain has backed a US proposal to waive intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, breaking ranks with Germany and complicating efforts by the European Union to form a common stance.

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP / AFP

"Intellectual property cannot be an obstacle to ending Covid-19 and to ensuring equitable and universal access to vaccines," the Spanish government said in an informal policy paper circulated Thursday evening. Its view is that consensus must be "urgently found on the proposal for a temporary waiver."

Spain’s position sets the stage for a tense debate when EU leaders meet Friday evening to discuss their response to the pandemic. The country is at odds with Europe’s biggest economy as well as drugmakers, who warned that such a move will harm efforts to stem the pandemic.

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