President of the European Council Charles Michel said Saturday that waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents is not a "magic bullet" to solve jab shortages, but the European Union (EU) is ready to talk "as soon as a concrete proposal is put on the table."
Michel made the remarks upon arrival at a two-day EU summit in Porto, Portugal's second-largest city, after the United States on Wednesday agreed to support waiving intellectual property (IP) restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization.
Michel revealed that patent rights to COVID-19 vaccines were the main topic discussed at the official dinner of European leaders on Friday night. He said the EU's heads of government and state "agreed that it is necessary to do everything possible to increase vaccine production worldwide."
"In Europe, we have made the decision to make vaccine exports possible, and we encourage all partners to facilitate their export," said Michel.
Striking a similar tone, French President Emmanuel Macron said that "the current priority is not the patents" of vaccines, but to convince Anglo-Saxon countries to "end the export ban."
"Today, there is not a single factory in the world that cannot produce doses (of vaccines) for poor countries because of patents. The priority today is not patents, it is production," he told reporters before joining the Porto Social Summit, which opened on Friday and is hosted by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Macron recalled that, of the total vaccines that were produced in the EU, around 50 percent were exported, while in the United States and the United Kingdom "100 percent of what was produced was consumed by the domestic market."