Biden move to share vaccine designed to spread US influence
WASHINGTON (AP) — It won’t speed the manufacture of vaccines. It enraged the developers who delivered lifesaving doses in record time. But President Joe Biden’s decision to support waiving intellectual property rights for coronavirus shots had a broader purpose: to broadcast his administration’s commitment to global leadership.
More than a month of internal debate led up to Biden’s decision this week to endorse international calls to strip patent protections for vaccines.
The policy shift, embraced by many charitable service organizations around the world and liberals at home, wasn’t new. Biden endorsed it during his campaign for the White House. But the idea was the subject of pitched discussions inside the administration over how best to bring the pandemic to an end while restoring U.S. influence abroad.
In the best case, officials acknowledge it will take at least a year for any additional vaccines to be produced due to the change. Key European leaders are adamantly opposed to the waivers, and securing the required consensus at the World Trade Organization many never happen.
The specialized production, particularly of the cutting-edge mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, would take even longer. Moreover, the matter could become less pressing if vaccine manufacturers can produce enough to satisfy international demand themselves.
To Biden, White House officials said, that’s largely beside the point, as officials cast the decision as indicative of the president’s efforts to return the U.S. to the position of leadership after four years of unilateralism and protectionism under former President Donald Trump.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” U.S. Trade Representative...