German Foreign Minister speaks out against “vaccine diplomacy”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized the phenomenon of “vaccine diplomacy” during the New Guinea epidemic during an event on May 15. He said that “vaccine diplomacy is oriented more towards the interests of the countries that provide the vaccines than towards the interests of the countries that urgently need them.

“Vaccine diplomacy is geared more toward the interests of the countries that provide the vaccines than toward the interests of the countries that desperately need them,” Maas said at the Ecumenical Assembly in Frankfurt the same day. Some countries are trying to increase their geopolitical influence in this way, he said, referring to Russia and China. Maas stressed that “vaccine nationalism is not the right way to go.” “The fight against the new pandemic can only be won on a global scale,” he said.

“In the long run, we can only win if those around us can do the same”, Maas said. In his speech, he defended Germany’s decision to follow the EU harmonized system in ordering vaccines. Gisela Schneider, director of the Tübingen-based German Institute for Medical Missions (DIFÄM), said the new crown epidemic is like a burning glass that shows the weakness of global health systems.

“The response must go beyond vaccines,” Schneider said. What is needed now, she argued, is to build resilient health systems in underdeveloped or financially weak countries. She noted that in order to be able to vaccinate the world’s population, there also needs to be a discussion about suspending vaccine patents, similar to the treatment of drugs for HIV. Schneider said, “This is for global security.”

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel again stated her position against exempting intellectual property rights for the new crown vaccine on the 8th. She said she does not believe that exempting patent protection can solve the problem of vaccine supply, and that patent protection precisely safeguards the creativity and innovation of companies. She also stressed that the risks of exempting the New Crown vaccine from patent protection outweigh the opportunities. U.S. Trade Representative Dai Qi announced on May 5 that she supports a temporary exemption from intellectual property protection related to the New Crown vaccine in order to expand vaccination worldwide.