LONDON — French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support late Wednesday for waiving patents for vaccines to help end the coronavirus pandemic, putting France on a collision course with the U.K. and Germany ahead of the G7 summit in England.
In a tweet following consultations with NGOs, Macron wrote that “from day one France has worked to make solutions to the pandemic a global public good.”
He added: “Dose sharing, opening up of intellectual property, financing of health systems. It’s up to the G7 to get involved!”
An Elysée official confirmed that “opening up of intellectual property” meant supporting waiving patents on vaccines.
South Africa and India have proposed waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus-related products including vaccines at the World Trade Organization. The EU has consistently opposed the call, arguing that intellectual property isn’t a barrier to accessing vaccines and that if it is, existing compulsory licensing provisions should be used.
Of the G7 countries, Germany and the U.K. are also opposed to the waiver at the WTO, while Japan and Canada have taken more ambiguous stances, but haven’t expressed outright support of a waiver. The U.S. has said it would support a waiver limited to vaccines and Italian officials have backed this stance. It’s unclear if Macron would place a similar limit on his support.
Cécile Duflot, executive director of Oxfam France and a former French minister, first tweeted that Macron would support the waiver at the G7 meeting in Cornwall, which starts Friday.
While the EU is opposed to the waiver, Macron has previously expressed mixed views on the subject, saying he was “favorable to opening up the IP,” but also questioning whether intellectual property was the main issue blocking access to vaccines.
However, during a recent visit to South Africa, he told an event at the University of Pretoria that South Africa could “count on France.”
“I will be alongside you on key issues and the main battles and on [the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] and IP,” he said, according to the Mail and Guardian.
Rym Momtaz contributed reporting.
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