Absurd and nonsense to smear China over WTO's vaccine patent waiver
Published: Jun 20, 2022 03:16 AM
Vaccine. Photo: VCG
Photo: VCG

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed on Friday on an "unprecedented package" of trade deals touching on several issues including COVID-19 vaccines. The outcome underlined the important role of the WTO in addressing the world's most pressing issues. However, the much-needed reinvigoration of the WTO-centered multilateral trading system failed to win praises but raised questions and critiques from some Western media outlets which have been keen on playing up geopolitical tensions and rivalry.

Members of the WTO agreed Friday on a measure aimed at making it easier for companies in developing nations to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines without consent from the patent holder in developed countries. The measure will probably help boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, especially in those with low vaccination rates. However, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) used the provision of COVID-19 vaccines as a means to slander China. The media outlet mistakenly claimed that the measure is an "enormous defeat for US national interests that will benefit China" and "this will not be the last time global grafters seek to pilfer US technology."

The words reflect some of the political prejudices of Americans and expose their arrogance and fear. On the one hand, it is arrogant by the US to believe that the nation is maintaining a monopoly of technology and developing countries can only gain access to advanced technology by "stealing intellectual property" from the US. On the other hand, the American people feel uneasy about China's rapid advancement in technology and try to curb China's development. The WTO's effort to ease intellectual-property rules for producing COVID-19 vaccines has been met with ambivalence by some in the US.

Since last year, the US government announced that it supports waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines. However, lip service is far from enough to support equal access to COVID-19 vaccines in the world. It is now the right time for the US to fulfill its promise on patent waiver. Hopefully, the WSJ's report will not become an excuse if the US tries to evade its obligations.

This type of reporting is nonsense without facts or evidence. Chinese vaccines proved fairly effective against COVID-19 and there is no need for China to "pilfer US technology." Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Products, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying last year that China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines are considered both safe and effective.

China is one of the world's largest COVID-19 vaccine donors. The country has provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. Chinese Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao, said earlier this month that China is willing to cooperate with all sides to facilitate the WTO's 12th ministerial conference to pursue progress in areas like COVID-19 response, so that the organization can better promote global economic recovery.

China has been making great contributions to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing economies. What Western media outlets should do is to stop smearing China and to supervise whether the US government will fulfill its promise on patent waiver.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.