Portuguese PM: ’unfair’ to blame Germany for vaccine patent stance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa (L) deliver a statement at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 11 March 2020. [EPA-EFE/OMER MESSINGER]

Portugal’s prime minister has said he considered arguments that blame Germany for the EU’s scepticism over the waiving of patents on COVID-19 vaccines “unfair”, stressing that most member states follow the same line.

“The description I have seen that it was Germany blocking a European Union position on patents is unfair. The European Union took an overall position, where Germany and several countries took a common position on this matter,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Monday (10 May).

In this context, and after being confronted with positions of the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, and Pope Francis, for the lifting of patents, Costa pointed out that Portugal, as president of the Council of the EU, understands that “there is a clear majority of countries that have the same position”.

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“It is essential to ensure universal access to vaccines for all people around the world, and for that to happen, it is necessary to increase production capacity – and that is the real big blockage that exists. Secondly, there must be an effective mechanism for sharing vaccines in solidarity, such as the COVAX mechanism, which must be equipped with sufficient vaccines to ensure their proper distribution”, said Costa.

The prime minister also noted that the EU is the only democratic region in the world that “exports vaccines – and it exports no small amount, about half of what it is producing”.

“Moreover, several countries, such as Spain and Portugal, on the basis of a bilateral relationship, have made a commitment to cede part of their vaccines. In Portugal’s case, we will very soon be in a position, when the vaccination of over 60s is concluded in the coming weeks, to start delivering 5% of new vaccines to Portuguese-language African countries,” he added.

[Edited by Josie Le Blond]

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