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[e-drug] Brazil Senate votes to suspend patent protection on COVID-19 vaccines

E-DRUG: Brazil Senate votes to suspend patent protection on COVID-19 vaccines
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Reuters Ricardo Brito
https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/brazil-senate-votes-suspend-patent-protection-covid-19-vaccines-2021-04-30/

Brazil's Senate on Thursday approved a bill to suspend patent protection for 
COVID-19 vaccines, tests and medications during the pandemic, sending the 
proposal to the lower house of Congress for consideration and possible 
amendments.

It remains unclear if lower house lawmakers will pass the bill, with 
implications for pharmaceutical firms such as AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and China's 
Sinovac Biotech (SVA.O), which have arranged local production of their COVID-19 
vaccines.

U.S. firm Pfizer (PFE.N) also made its first delivery of coronavirus vaccines 
to Brazil on Thursday evening.

The government of President Jair Bolsonaro has publicly opposed proposals to 
suspend patent protections, arguing that such a move could endanger talks with 
vaccine producers.

Brazil on Thursday saw its death toll from the pandemic pass 400,000, the 
second-highest tally in the world after the United States. Experts say that 
Brazil's slow vaccine rollout is likely to keep the daily death toll high for 
months. 

"We can't remain passively watching, day after day, 3,000 to 5,000 deaths. The 
opportunity is there, we must do our part," said Senator Nelsinho Trad, one of 
the backers of the bill.

The bill was passed by 55 votes in favour, and 19 against.

According to the proposal, patent holders would be obliged to provide 
authorities with all the information needed to produce COVID-19 vaccines and 
medicines. Then, if the government were to call a state of emergency, they 
could be produced locally under a licensing agreement.

The objective, according to Senator Paulo Paim, who drafted the bill, is to 
streamline vaccine production in order to accelerate inoculations.

Neither the president's office nor health ministry immediately responded to 
requests for comment.

Carinne Bruneton 
E-Med@healthnet.org
<carinne.bruneton@hotmail.fr>

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