Maas open to talks about vaccine patents | free press

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Kalamazoo (dpa) – Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas is open to talks about easing patent protection for corona vaccines.

“This is a discussion that we lead and that we do not want to refuse,” said the SPD politician on Tuesday during a visit to a production facility of the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer in Kalamazoo, Michigan. However, he sees no possibility of suspension in the short term, so the priority at the moment is on improving supply chains and building production facilities in poorer countries. “You have to do both, you can do it in parallel,” Maas emphasized.

Poorer countries, as well as the US, have long been campaigning for the suspension of patent protection for vaccines to speed up the global vaccination campaign. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has so far clearly rejected this. It is not the first time that Maas makes a different comment. The Chancellor will meet US President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. This topic could also play a role in this.

Maas emphasizes collaboration

Maas began a three-day visit to the US in Michigan. In Kalamazoo, he visited the largest pharmaceutical production facility in the US, which also produces corona vaccines. Pfizer is collaborating with the German company Biontech. Even before his departure, the Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the distribution of vaccines. “Without global solidarity in vaccine distribution, Delta will not have been the last variant we have to beat,” he said.

Maas also wanted to visit the former industrial metropolis of Detroit on Tuesday, which has been suffering for decades from a huge population decline due to, among other things, the crisis in the car industry. On Tuesday evening, he planned to travel to New York, where he will attend a meeting of the UN Security Council on the Libyan conflict on Thursday.

Three weeks ago, Maas, together with the United Nations, organized a meeting of foreign ministers in Berlin, where the aim was once again to end outside interference in the conflict. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had combined the meeting in Libya with his inaugural visit to Berlin. That’s one of the reasons Maas doesn’t stop in Washington on his trip to the US.

Instead, Chancellor Merkel left for the US capital on Wednesday to meet Biden at the White House on Thursday. She will also receive an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.