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Statement: With Key WTO Position Finally Confirmed, One Step Closer to Achieving COVID-19 Intellectual Property Waiver

CONTACT: Matt Groch mgroch@citizen.org (603) 560-0847

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Senate confirmed María Luisa Pagán as U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) after Senate Republicans had blocked her confirmation for months. Melinda St. Louis, newly appointed director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, issued the following statement:

“María Luisa Pagán’s confirmation is long-overdue. President Biden first nominated Pagán in August 2021, but Senate Republicans have blocked her vote until today to protest the administration’s support for the widely popular proposed waiver of WTO intellectual property barriers on COVID-19 vaccines.

“With March 11 marking the two-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, we are reminded of the millions of lives lost due to world leaders’ delay and inaction.

“The world cannot afford to wait a moment longer. Hopefully Pagán’s confirmation will speed talks at the WTO and lead to a comprehensive waiver that removes WTO enforcement of monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. A comprehensive waiver at the WTO would clear a major hurdle and send a strong message to national governments to remove intellectual property barriers that restrict production of COVID-19 medical tools.

“Such swift action would be an important contribution to saving lives and alleviating extreme inequality — alongside efforts by governments to compel pharma companies to transfer technology and massively increase funding to support manufacturing, delivery and distribution of COVID vaccines and treatments.”