Italy's Draghi calls for U.S. and UK to lift block on COVID vaccine exports

FILE PHOTO: Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrives for an informal dinner event during an EU summit at the Crystal Palace in Porto, Portugal, May 7, 2021. Luis Vieira/Pool via REUTERS

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday that the United States and Britain should lift their block on the export of COVID-19 vaccines.

Draghi told the lower house of parliament he shared the aim behind U.S. President Joe Biden's call for a waiver of patents on coronavirus vaccines, adding that a temporary suspension would probably not discourage pharmaceutical research.

However, Draghi said the situation was complex and there were more simple steps that could be taken to ensure wider vaccine distribution to poorer countries, before any patent waiver could be agreed.

"First of all we should remove the substantial block on exports that countries like the United States and Britain continue to maintain," he said.

(Reporting By Gavin Jones, editing by Crispian Balmer)

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