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Greek Parties Enthusiastically Endorse Biden on Vaccine Patent Waiver

Greek partied endorse Biden
Credit: Greek Reporter

Greek opposition parties called the government on Thursday to emulate American President Joe Biden and back a World Trade Organization proposal to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden’s move is clearing a hurdle for vaccine-strapped countries to manufacture their own vaccines despite the patents being privately held.

Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, in an announcement said that the government should submit a request to the European Union for the lifting of vaccine patents.

“It would be better if the government and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, instead of making fools of themselves, were to find the courage, even at this late stage, to admit their mistake and even now submit an official proposal to the European Commission for the lifting of vaccine patents,” the announcement said.

The main opposition party noted that its proposal at the start of 2021 for the lifting of patents on vaccines was brought forth by SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance MEPs and MPs at both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

It also notes that the issue was raised during a phone call between SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

It also pointed out that “the proposal was finally officially adopted by the Council of Europe, the WHO and now the US government.”

Greek socialist party calls for joint action

Opposition Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata on Thursday made a call for joint action to bring about the release of vaccine patents, in a post on social media.

“President Biden’s intervention opens a prospect for the release of vaccine patents. All of us who have said this and believe it, have a debt to help,” she said.

She also stressed that “in our country, we should agree on the joint action required, so that the European Union can actively participate in the effort because this goal will not be an easy task.”

She also pledged to raise the issue within the Party of European Socialists.

Greek government responds

Government officials responded by saying that the proposal for the use of patents as a global good was first made by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on April 6, 2020.

Mitsotakis then followed this up with his speech on May 4, 2020, at the Coronavirus Donor Conference, in the context of the international initiative Coronavirus Global Response, in which he stated:

“Discovering and proving the effectiveness of a vaccine will be one of the main challenges. But that alone is not enough. The vaccine must be produced in sufficient quantities in the shortest possible time. It must be available, at an affordable price, to the entire world population, starting with the most vulnerable. It must be distributed worldwide equally.

“I therefore endorse the call of other leaders who have taken part in this conference that the vaccine – whenever it is invented – should be declared a global public good. I think this is a principle we have to agree on and an important message that we all need to send today.”

Biden changes policy on Covid-19 vaccine patents

Biden – through the U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai – changed the official US policy on patents for Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement.

“The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” she added.

The head of the World Health Organization called the move a “monumental moment” in the fight against Covid-19.

However, pharmaceutical companies took a completely different view. The industry’s largest lobby group warned that Biden’s unprecedented step would undermine the companies’ response to the pandemic and compromise safety.

In addition, there are questions that even if a country or other entity received the instructions on how to create a vaccine, the know-how and equipment needed to actually manufacture such complex substances may elude them.

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah noted after the announcement that the situation was akin to the world’s best baker giving his most complex recipe to someone else, saying “there is no guarantee that you are going to be able to make that cake.”

This is especially true, hoe noted, considering the extraordinarily difficult to produce mRNA-based vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.


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