Coronavirus Digest: United States Launches Trade Negotiations on Vaccine Distribution | News | DW

A senior White House official said on Sunday that the United States would begin talks with the World Trade Organization (WTO) on a wider distribution of much-needed coronavirus injections.

Washington has been under pressure to suspend patent rules for COVID vaccines as India renewed calls for a temporary waiver to help boost production and ease its second wave.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will begin discussions “on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely authorized, more widely shared,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told the CBS television channel.

Asked about Washington’s position on patent waivers, Klain argued that vaccine production in India had been slowed down due to a shortage of materials rather than intellectual property rights.

“Intellectual property rights are part of the problem. But in reality, manufacturing is the biggest problem,” he said.

“We have a factory here in the United States that owns all of the intellectual property rights to make the vaccine. They don’t manufacture doses because the factory is in trouble.

Meanwhile, Pfizer said on Monday that it was in talks with the Indian government on a “fast-track approval path” for its COVID-19 vaccine.

“Unfortunately, our vaccine is not registered in India although our application was submitted months ago,” said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer.

“We are currently discussing with the Indian government a fast track approval path to make our Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for use in the country.”

Here is other coronavirus related news from around the world.


Of Germany North Rhine-Westphalia’s most populous state is relaxing coronavirus restrictions for those with immunity.

People vaccinated and those recovered from COVID-19 no longer need to take a COVID-19 test when such a test is mandatory.

“This is a first step in putting people who have been vaccinated and recovered on an equal footing with those who have tested negative,” said State Prime Minister Armin Laschet.

The German federal government plans to present national regulations in the following days to relax coronavirus measures for those vaccinated.

The country’s Robert Koch Institute reported 9,160 new positive tests and 84 new deaths on Monday. The national seven-day incidence increased slightly to 146.9 cases per 100,000 people per week.

Denmark announced that it will remove the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from its coronavirus inoculation program due to blood clot issues.

The Danish Health Authority has said that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) “has concluded that there is a possible link between rare but serious cases of blood clots” and the drug Johnson & Johnson.

“The Danish health authority has concluded that the benefits of using Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine do not outweigh the risk of causing a possible side effect … in those who receive the vaccine,” said declared the authority in a statement.

Officials said Denmark would only rely on BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the coronavirus is currently “under control”.

“The deployment of vaccination is progressing satisfactorily with the other available vaccines,” said the health authority.

In France, a maximum of 1000 spectators will be authorized to attend the Roland-Garros tennis tournament, the capacity of the courts being capped at 35%.

The limit will be increased to 65% and 5,000 supporters from June 9, in time for the quarter-finals of the tournament, French Sports Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Sunday.

Poland submitted its EU COVID-19 recovery plan on Monday for approval by the European Commission, which will have two weeks to review the plan. The Polish government, which presented the plan with the support of the left opposition rather than the coalition centrists, wants to spend the 58 billion euros ($ 70 billion) it expects to receive from the bloc in locally managed hospitals and housing projects, as well as on agricultural subsidies, school and hospital renovations, and road and rail infrastructure projects.

North America

Besieged new York Governor Mario Cuomo has announced that the city will begin lifting most capacity limits for various establishments and events, as well as a return to 24-hour metro service.

Cuomo said retail stores, food services and gyms would be exempt from the limits starting May 19 in New York City and neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey. The 24-hour metro service will resume on May 17.

Asia Pacific

Malaysia has detected its first case of the variant coronavirus first identified in India, the Ministry of Health reported on Sunday.

The announcement came just days after Malaysia banned flights from India.

The variant, B.1.617, was detected in an Indian national tested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to the Ministry of Health.

Australia On Monday began to vaccinate people over 50 with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the health ministry said.

Middle East

Kuwaiti citizens who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be able to travel abroad from May 22, the country’s information ministry said.

People belonging to age groups not eligible for vaccination are exempt from the measure. Foreign citizens still do not have the right to enter the Gulf country.

Kuwait suspended flights from India 10 days ago due to the peak of infections in that country.


Morocco, which has generally closed to outside travelers and has put in place curfews to curb the spread of the coronavirus, has recorded its first two cases of the Indian variant B.1.617 according to the country’s health ministry. The ministry said two people had been infected and isolated, adding that all their contacts had been notified and “taken care of in accordance with international and national protocols.”

South Africa is expected to receive 4.5 million BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus inoculations by June, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Sunday.

The first batch of 325,260 doses is expected to arrive in Johannesburg on Sunday evening, Mkhize said, with a similar number expected each week until the end of this month.

The country is the most affected on the continent by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 1.5 million infections, including 54,406 deaths.

Only 318,670 people in South Africa, mostly health workers, have been vaccinated so far, according to AFP.

Earlier this year, South Africa sold the doses of AstraZeneca it had purchased amid fears that it would be less effective against a local variant of the coronavirus. The government has said it also expects more doses of Johnson & Johnson from a local factory by mid-May.

mvb, fb, jsi / msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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