Macron's attempt to upstage Boris Johnson before G7 as France and UK on 'collision course'


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    Mr Macron expressed his support for waiving patents for vaccines to help end the pandemic ahead of the G7 summit. The French President wrote on Twitter that “from day one France has worked to make solutions to the pandemic a global public good”. He added: “Dose sharing, opening up of intellectual property, financing of health systems. It’s up to the G7 to get involved.”

    A French official confirmed to Politico that the “opening up of intellectual property” meant supporting waiving patents on vaccines.

    The UK is currently opposed to the idea, which is reportedly poised to place Mr Macron and Mr Johnson on a “collision course” this weekend.

    Mr Macron previously attempted to upstage Mr Johnson on the issue after he demanded Europe start dishing out doses to other countries in February.

    He told the Financial Times that the failure to share vaccines fairly would entrench global inequality ahead of the Prime Minister hosting the global virtual G7 summit.

    Emmanuel Macron attempted to upstage Boris Johnson

    Emmanuel Macron attempted to upstage Boris Johnson (Image: GETTY)

    Mr Macron has supported the idea of waiving vaccine patents

    Mr Macron has supported the idea of waiving vaccine patents (Image: GETTY)

    He said: “We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and that we are not starting in poor countries.

    “It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines.”

    But Mr Johnson had already promised millions of doses to other countries through the COVAX alliance.

    Foreign Office minister James Cleverly slapped down Mr Macron’s choice to use vaccines as “diplomatic leverage,” saying it was much better to hand over doses to COVAX to decide how best to distribute them.

    Mr Cleverly told LBC Radio: “Ultimately, our first priority, quite rightly, is the protection of the British people, that’s what we’re focusing on and we’re doing that very effectively and the vaccine rollout very, very quickly.

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    The Prime Minister promised to donate vaccines

    The Prime Minister promised to donate vaccines (Image: GETTY)

    “But we also know that we, the UK, are not really going to be safe until we have also addressed this situation internationally, which is why it’s important we do both.

    “When we assessed that we have really got ahead of the problem on this and that will be very much guided by the science, that’s when we can start seeing those surplus doses distributed.”

    Unlike other countries, the UK has not revealed how many doses it plans to donate to the COVAX scheme but has promised it will donate any excess.

    Last Friday, Mr Hancock said vaccinating children in the UK would take priority over sending doses abroad.

    He added that the UK did not currently have any spare doses.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Image: GETTY)

    Earlier this week more than 100 former prime ministers, presidents and foreign ministers urged leaders of the G7 countries to pay two-thirds of the £46.6billion reportedly needed to vaccinate low-income countries.

    Tony Blair said the “reality” was that governments are “obliged to look after [their] own people” and so will always prioritise vaccinating their own country first.

    But he added: “You can’t be absolutist about this, there may be some vaccine that we can ship out in advance.”

    Unicef’s Lily Caprani called on G7 countries to start donating jabs now as well as throughout the summer and the rest of the year.

    She said: “Low-income countries need a steady supply that they can get off the Tarmac and into the arms of health care workers.

    European Council president Charles Michel with Ursula von der Leyen

    European Council president Charles Michel with Ursula von der Leyen (Image: GETTY)

    “The unintended consequence of saving all these vaccines up to Christmas time is that countries won’t be able to absorb them and roll them out and therefore they could end up going to waste.

    “We could see millions of doses of vaccines not used and expiring, and that will be a tragedy.”

    South Africa and India proposed waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus-related products including vaccines through the World Trade Organisation.

    This would allow more vaccines to be produced in low-income countries.

    The EU has consistently opposed the call, arguing that intellectual property is not a barrier to accessing vaccines and that, if it is, existing compulsory licensing provisions should be used.

    Of the G7 countries, Germany and the UK are opposed to the waiver, while Japan and Canada have taken more ambiguous stances, but have not expressed outright support.

    The US has said it would support a waiver limited to vaccines and Italian officials have backed this stance.

    European Council President Charles Michel said today that the “question of intellectual property rights will likely be raised” at the summit.

    He added: “The patent waiver might sound good, but it’s no silver bullet.

    “The TRIPS agreement already offers flexibility and we want to focus on concrete proposals, such as promoting voluntary licences and knowledge transfers and patent-pooling on mutually agreed terms.”

    The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement establishes multilateral and international standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.


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