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Democrats Backed by Pharma Decline Support to Patent Waiver of Vaccine

All of the Democrats in Congress who receive the most money from the pharmaceutical industry have yet to support lifting the restrictions on intellectual property rights for the COVID-19 vaccines, which many experts believe are impeding development. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) plans to send President Joe Biden a letter on Tuesday asking him to temporarily lift Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which block many developing countries from producing COVID-19 vaccines or treatments.

The letter explicitly asks Biden to pay attention to India’s, South Africa’s, and nearly 100 other developing countries’ requests for a waiver as they confront Covid-19 crisis with limited resources. The letter has been signed by 110 of the 218 House Democrats, including Schakowsky, meaning that it has the support of a majority of the Democratic Caucus.

The letter has been signed by none of the nine House Democrats who are among the top 25 recipients of donations from pharmaceutical industry PACs in the 2020 election cycle. According to HuffPost, Democrats Reps. Scott Peters (Calif.) and Ron Kind (Wisconsin), who are ranked Nos. 7 and 19 on the top 25 list, have solicited support for a new letter to Biden urging him not to waive the intellectual property laws.

The remaining seven Democrats on the list were contacted by HuffPost to explain why they did not support the intellectual property waiver. Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois (No. 17) issued a statement that echoed the pharmaceutical industry’s resistance to the temporary waiver, claiming that it would do little to relieve the ongoing vaccine shortage.

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