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COVID vaccines

India COVID crisis raises pressure on US to waive vaccine patents

Emerging countries push for a WTO-rule exemption amid surging infections

A coronavirus patient receives treatment at a hospital in New Delhi: India's flood of new infections has caused a severe shortage of oxygen for medical use.   © Reuters

VIENNA/WASHINGTON -- Facing pressure amid renewed surges in coronavirus cases in India and other emerging countries, the U.S. has begun considering loosening vaccine patent protections to increase global access to the shots.

Many emerging economies are calling for a temporary exemption to the World Trade Organization's vaccine patent rules in order to increase vaccine production. But pharmaceutical and biotech companies have pushed back against the idea, warning it could put sensitive technologies in the hands of overseas rivals.

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