Merkel urges US to export COVID vaccines

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Merkel urges US to export COVID vaccines

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Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the US on Saturday to export coronavirus vaccines made on their soil as she rejected a patent waiver appeal from Washington for the bumps.

"Now that another section of the American population has been vaccinated, I hope that we can get to a free exchange of components and opening up the market for vaccines," she said, adding that the EU has a large proportion of the batches produced exported in block and that should "be the rule".

At a press conference after talks with EU heads of state and government, Merkel reiterated her rejection of the demand that pharmaceutical companies stop protecting their intellectual property for vaccines.

"I don't think surrendering patents is the answer to getting more vaccines to more people," she said.

"I rather think that we need the creativity and innovative strength of companies, and for me this includes patent protection."

The leader of Europe's largest economy stressed the importance of driving innovation, saying it should not be "weakened so that rapid adaptations for virus variants cannot be found".

Vaccines are "highly sensitive" products, she said, adding that manufacturers were already working at high speed to increase capacity, including through licensing partnerships.

"The problem is not that people are sitting on their patents and not taking action," she said.

Germany is home to BioNTech, the company that worked with Pfizer to develop the first COVID vaccine, which was approved for use in the West at the end of last year.

Another German company, Curevac, is in the final stages of clinical trials and approval for its COVID jabs in the EU in the coming weeks.

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© 2021 AFP

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