Macron calls on US and UK to stop blocking vaccine exports

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he was ready to discuss the issue of waiving Covid-19 vaccine patents but more important was the US and UK ending export restrictions on vaccines and their raw materials.

Macron calls on US and UK to stop blocking vaccine exports
Emmanuel Macron at the European summit in Portugal. Photo: Jose Coeho/AFP

“Today, the Anglo-Saxons block many of these ingredients and vaccines,” he told reporters as he arrived at a summit in Porto, defending Europe’s record as an exporter of doses.

“Today 100 percent of the vaccines produced in the United States are for the American market.”

READ ALSO Why do the French insist on calling us Anglo Saxons?

That contrasted with the EU’s export so far of more than 200 million vaccine doses, which European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has said showed Europe is “the pharmacy of the world”.

Macron’s remarks, echoed by Brussels officials, underlined scepticism in EU capitals over the sudden US about-face this week to support the suspension of vaccine patents, as pushed for by the World Health Organization and countries such as India and South Africa.

While von der Leyen and Macron have said they are open to discussing the idea, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come out fiercely against it.

Unlike the EU, the US currently prohibits producers from exporting doses abroad under the terms of the contracts it signed with vaccine-makers.

EU officials said the big problem in increasing global vaccine production was not intellectual property protection but ensuring countries such as the US were not hoarding vaccine inputs.

Even if patents were suspended, that would not address how technology and knowhow could be transferred, they said.

Macron said that “we Europeans have been fighting for a year to have the vaccine considered of global public benefit, and I’m happy that others are following us”.

He said the debate around patents was “useful” and he was not displaying “opposition, just doubts about how effective freeing up patents would be”.

He and Merkel, he added, were “totally hand-in-hand” on the issue.

In Brussels, EU officials briefing journalists on the European Commission’s stance in the debate said the US position so far was not fully fleshed out.

“I believe now the US should come forward and explain exactly the substance of their proposal,” one EU official said. “We have not seen anything but a very general statement.”

Lifting patents, by itself, “will not fix things,” said another.

Member comments

  1. UK set up 20 local AZ production lines around the World – including in the EU. It could have concentrated all production in the UK and exported from there. So, what’s the difference ? Given that AZ was also made available at cost, these ‘criticisms just seem opportunistic and shallow.

  2. Where are Macrons vaccines? What happened to all the money given to Sanofi? €€€€€

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Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.