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German chancellor maintains opposition to patent waivers for coronavirus vaccines

FILE PHOTO - German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference at the Bundespressekonferenz, about the current situation of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Berlin, Germany, January 21, 2021. Michael Kappeler-Pool-REUTERS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out strongly on Thursday against suspending patent protection for coronavirus vaccine manufacturers, in what is likely to be her last government statement to parliament.

Speaking to the Bundestag ahead of an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Merkel said she backed increasing the production of vaccines for poorer countries through increased licensing.

“In contrast, I consider a politically obtained release of patents to be the wrong way to go,’’ she told lawmakers.

The development of vaccines will only succeed, she said, if intellectual property protection is not suspended.

Merkel announced in October 2018 that she planned to exit the political stage at this September’s national election, marking the beginning of the post-Merkel era after 16 years in power.

She turns 67 next month.

Thursday’s statement also represented another step in her farewell to public life after holding her final parliamentary question session on Wednesday.

Thursday’s EU summit could also be her last.

Merkel is set next month to hold talks with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, where she is seen as a key supporter of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

However, her comments to parliament on Thursday underline her differences with the U. S. on vaccinations.

Washington has proposed the suspension of patents to increase the production of vaccines for poorer countries.

In addition to Germany, Britain and the EU Commission are also opposed to waiving patents.

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