What it means for the U.S. to back waivers on coronavirus vaccine patents

Demonstrators at the National Mall on Wednesday call on the United States to commit to a global coronavirus vaccination plan that includes sharing vaccine formulas with the world. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
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After months of deadlock, the United States has reversed course, coming out in favor of a proposal to waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines at the World Trade Organization.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement on Wednesday.

Here’s what U.S. support for a waiver could mean.

Global vaccine inequality runs deep. Some countries say intellectual property rights are part of the problem.