President Emmanuel Macron: “First of all, the Anglo Saxons must stop their bans on exports."

President Emmanuel Macron: “First of all, the Anglo Saxons must stop their bans on exports."


EU says US stand on patent virus waiver is no ‘magic bullet’. European Union leaders cranked up their criticism of the U.S. call to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents Saturday, arguing the move would bring no short or midterm relief. They instead urged Washington to lift export restrictions if it wants to have a global impact on the pandemic.

“We don’t think, in the short term, that it’s the magic bullet,” said EU Council President Charles Michel on the second day of an EU summit in Portugal. French President Emmanuel Macron insisted that giving any priority to discussing intellectual property rights now, “is a false debate.”

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Instead, they joined previous EU calls for U.S. President Joe Biden to start boosting U.S. vaccine exports to contain the global COVID-19 crisis, insisting it was the most urgent need.

“We encourage all the partners to facilitate the export of (vaccine) doses,” said Michel.

While the U.S. has kept a tight lid on exports of American-made vaccines so it can inoculate its own population first, the EU has become the world’s leading provider, allowing about as many doses to go outside the 27-nation bloc as are kept for its 446 million inhabitants. The EU has distributed about 200 million doses within the bloc while about the same amount had been exported abroad to almost 90 countries.

“First of all, you must open up,” said Macron. “In the United States, in the United Kingdom, 100 percent of what has been produced has been used in the domestic market.” Macron said that “first of all, the Anglo Saxons must stop their bans on exports.”

The EU is trying to regain the diplomatic initiative on vaccines after Biden put it on the back foot with his surprising endorsement of lifting patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines, seeking to solve the problem of getting shots into the arms of people in poorer countries.

Macron and other EU leaders have insisted that first of all production capacity must be ramped up by, among other things, reconverting factories so they can quickly start producing vaccines through a transfer of technology. Developed nations should also increase vaccine donations to poorer countries.

Only after that, Macron said, can the debate on patent waivers start having an impact.

“Today, there is not a factory in the world that cannot produce doses for poor countries because of a patent issue,” Macron said.

Macron calls on US, UK to stop ‘blocking’ vaccines

French president renews calls for rich nations to share vaccine doses with poorer nations.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday renewed his call for richer nations to share COVID-19 vaccine doses with poorer nations, and he criticized the U.S. and the U.K. for “blocking” such transfers.

France was the first member of the group of seven rich nations known as G7 to donate doses, but Macron has been under pressure recently for not clearly supporting a proposal to lift intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, an idea which the U.S. backed on Wednesday.

Responding to a question by reporters upon his arrival to the EU Social Summit in Porto, Macron defended his position.

“What’s the issue right now? It’s not really about intellectual property; you can give it to a lab that won’t know how to produce it — the first issue is giving doses,” Macron said. “The second pillar for the vaccines to circulate, it’s not to block ingredients and the vaccines. Today the Anglo-Saxons are blocking a lot of ingredients and vaccines.”

Over the past year, Macron has been pushing for vaccines to be considered a global public good, and has said wealthier countries should help poor countries buy and receive doses, as well as produce them.

“I am open on this issue, as I have previously said, we’ve been fighting for a year for the vaccine to be a global public good, I’m glad we’re being followed,” Macron said.

The French president has repeatedly said that wealthier countries that are hoarding excess doses should donate what they don’t need, given the bottlenecks in vaccine production. They should also help pharmaceutical companies to transfer their know-how to help set up more production sites across the world that are able to produce the technologically complex vaccines, such those based on mRNA.

France only started producing vaccine shots in March, after it benefited from a transfer of technologies to produce mRNA vaccines. No French pharmaceutical company or laboratory has so far succeeded in developing an in-house COVID-19 vaccine.

Separately, Macron joined the prime ministers of Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Spain to call for the urgent approval of a European vaccine sharing mechanism, “coupled with a commitment to share doses.”

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