Brazil welcomes U.S. call for talks on vaccine patents

FILE PHOTO: A citizen receives a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a vaccination day for 57-year-old and older citizens, in Duque de Caxias near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil April 21, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's government said on Friday it welcomed a call from the United States for multilateral talks on vaccine patents, and would engage constructively to find a way to increase the availability and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

In a joint statement released by Brazil's foreign, health and economy ministries, the government said it will cooperate with all governments and private-sector parties under the auspices of the World Trade Organization to achieve these goals.

The statement is Brazil's first formal response to U.S President Joe Biden throwing his support behind a suspension of intellectual-property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.

In March, richer members of the WTO blocked a push by over 80 developing countries to waive patent rights in an effort to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines for poor nations.

"The easing of positions ... could help international efforts to respond to COVID, including in ongoing negotiations on the temporary suspension of provisions in the TRIPS agreement related to combating the pandemic," the statement said.

"In particular, it could facilitate the implementation of the 'third way' proposals, which aim to increase and diversify the production and dissemination of vaccines, mainly in developing countries, with better use of idle capacity."

TRIPS is the WTO's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property agreement. Western nations have argued intellectual-property rights are key to encouraging research and innovation and that suspending those rights would not result in a sudden surge of vaccine supply.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Matthew Lewis)

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