Follow us on social


Biden takes a vital step on vaccine patents — but more action is needed

U.S. support for a patent waiver must be coupled with technology transfers, information sharing, and a coordinated global effort to distribute vaccines.

North America

The Biden administration’s announcement that it will support a WTO patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines is a welcome step towards ending the global pandemic — but it must be followed by coordinated efforts to boost vaccine production through technology transfer, information sharing, and increased financing to have its promised effect.

The move is a heel-turn for the administration, which in March helped block a proposal led by India and South Africa to waive patents for Covid vaccines, treatments, and vital medical supplies in order to enable the production of affordable generics, particularly in the developing world.

This reversal, announced by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, comes after months of pressure from activists and public health experts around the globe.

U.S. support does not itself guarantee passage of a patent waiver, as the United States was previously joined in blocking the measure by the United Kingdom, the European Union, and a handful of other countries. It does, however, make it vastly more likely that remaining holdouts will shift their positions. (At this time, New Zealand has already suggested it will move to support the waiver).

While the administration’s announcement is undoubtedly good news, crucial questions remain. Notably, Tai’s statement does not say that the U.S. will support the specific proposal put forward by India and South Africa. This suggests that the United States may advocate for a modified or narrower plan in WTO negotiations. Tai’s announcement states only that the U.S. will support a waiver for vaccines, not for treatments and medical supplies as included in the earlier proposal. To maximize the benefits of a waiver, the Biden administration must be pushed to support the broadest possible proposal, ideally including COVID treatments and medical supplies.

Most importantly, the waiver will require follow-on action in the form of technology transfer and information sharing. While patents are a primary barrier to broader vaccine production, new manufacturers will also need access to key technologies and production information. 

The Biden administration should begin working now to facilitate technology transfer through the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and to share manufacturing information held by Pfizer, Moderna, and others. It should also come up with a plan to finance scaled-up production and distribution of vaccines worldwide.

The administration cannot hesitate in taking these next steps. Its embrace of a patent waiver offers an unprecedented opportunity to bring a more swift end to the pandemic — and with cases surging in devastating outbreaks around the world, there is no time to spare.

North America
How we can reconcile absurd Russian, Ukrainian peace plans

Review News and Aynur Mammadov via

How we can reconcile absurd Russian, Ukrainian peace plans


The international community has before it two official proposals — Ukrainian and Russian — for a peace settlement to end the war in Ukraine. Both as they stand, and in present circumstances, are absurd. Diplomats and analysts should however give thought to whether they could nonetheless in the future provide the starting point for negotiations leading to an eventual compromise.

The Ukrainian government’s Ten-Point “peace plan” demands complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all the Ukrainian territory that Russia has occupied since 2014 as a precondition for holding talks at all. Presumably those talks would then deal with other Ukrainian points, including war crimes trials for the Russian leadership, and Russian compensation for the damage caused by the Russian invasion.

keep readingShow less
Why great powers fight, and why they cooperate

LukeOnTheRoad via

Why great powers fight, and why they cooperate


Why did Europe go to war in 1914? How did the Cold War end? Will the U.S. and China go to war over Taiwan? Imagine a grand chessboard stretching across the globe, where great powers with vast resources strategize and maneuver their pieces.

In this high-stakes game of survival, each move reflects a nation's pursuit of security, wealth, prestige and influence. Every nation must navigate the wide and intricate web of alliances and trade, rivalries, and war. The great powers must vigilantly track all the pieces on the board and anticipate many moves ahead.

keep readingShow less
Are the Houthis winning in the Red Sea?

Houthi military spokesperson, Yahya Sarea, chants slogans after he delivered a statement on the group's latest attacks during a rally held to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, in Sanaa, Yemen May 24, 2024. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/File Photo

Are the Houthis winning in the Red Sea?

Middle East

Shortly after Israel began its war on Gaza last year, Yemen’s Ansarallah, commonly known as the Houthis, began firing missiles and drones at Israel-linked merchant and commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden and southern Red Sea.

This was Ansarallah’s way of supporting the Palestinians in Gaza by “counter-blockading the blockader.” Such action has been consistent with Ansarallah’s practice of taking an “eye-for-an-eye” when dealing with the rebel movement’s domestic and foreign enemies.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis