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Senators ask Joe Biden to urge WTO to open up vaccine production

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Senators ask Joe Biden to urge WTO to open up vaccine production
President Joe Biden announces Jerome Powell as his nominee for a second term as the Federal Reserve chair at the White House on Monday. Nine senators called on Biden to urge the World Trade Organization to waive international intellectual property rules. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Nine senators sent President Joe Biden a letter urging him to call for a waiver of international intellectual property rules for vaccines at the World Trade Organization ministerial conference.

The letter, signed by former presidential candidates Elizbeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said a "meaningful waiver" would lead to an increased production of coronavirus vaccines around the world, especially in developing countries.

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"By securing a waiver agreement at the WTO Ministerial, your administration can demonstrate real and impactful American global leadership," the lawmakers said in the letter, according to The Hill newspaper.

"If the Ministerial Conference cannot deliver a solution, the WTO -- and the wealthy nations blocking the waiver -- will continue to lose credibility with the developing world. We urge you to seize this opportunity to engage actively and productively at the WTO [to] deliver on your promise to defeat the pandemic."

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Other Democratic senators signing the letter included Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico.

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The letter makes a similar plea that Human Rights Watch and other international groups made this week, asking Biden to address intellectual property rules to enhance vaccine production.

"Your leadership in securing a meaningful WTO waiver and helping to end the COVID-19 pandemic and the misery it is causing all of humanity is a moral necessity," said the Human Rights Watch letter to Biden which was signed onto by Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations.

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"It would help restore U.S. standing around the world and create a sense of relief among U.S. residents that their president was taking strong action to return normalcy to their lives."

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