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30th May, 2021

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People wait to receive a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus during special drive vaccination programme at a government school in Hyderabad on May 28. — Agence France-Presse/Noah Seelam

AFTER three months of dithering, the Biden administration eventually agreed to a temporary waiver of patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines. The proposal by South Africa and India for a waiver on intellectual property rights in the World Trade Organisation has found support from a large number of countries and more than 400 public health organisations. The proposal now faces opposition from the European Union countries, which had earlier portrayed themselves to be more progressive than the United States. This portrayal was not difficult to achieve under the Trump administration. The latest move by Biden has, however, wrong-footed the EU, leaving the bloc as the only public supporter of big pharma in the WTO.

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