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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in Berlin on May 8. Photo: Steffi Loos/Getty Images

European leaders ramped up their criticism of the United States' support for a proposal to waive certain patent protections for coronavirus vaccines, with European Council President Charles Michel saying Saturday that a waiver is not "the magic bullet,” AP reports.

Why it matters: The leaders instead pressed President Biden to lift U.S. export restrictions on vaccines, arguing it would have a greater impact on vaccine production and distribution.

Context: Proponents of the patent waiver proposal, which was introduced before the World Trade Organization by South Africa and India, say it will help increase vaccine production and deliver doses to the developing world.

  • The proposal is working its way through the WTO, though all 164 member countries will have to consent to the decision and negotiations over it are expected to last for months, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: “We don’t think, in the short term, that it’s the magic bullet,” Michel said of the waiver proposal during the second day of a European Union summit in Portugal, according to AP.

  • “I see more risks than opportunities,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “I don’t believe that releasing patents is the solution to provide vaccines for more people.”
  • “I’m very clearly urging the U.S. to put an end to the ban on exports of vaccines and on components of vaccines that are preventing them being produced,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

The big picture: While the U.S. has strictly limited the export of American-made vaccines, the EU has distributed about 200 million doses to countries outside of the 27-nation bloc, according to AP.

  • Critics of the waiver proposal have warned that it could discourage drug companies from embarking on research for emergency vaccines and medicine in the future and could set a dangerous precedent.
  • The waiver also might not fix the gaping global divide in access to vaccines as quickly as proponents expect, since a lack of funding, logistical support and manufacturing capacity could limit its impact, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

Go deeper: U.S. could fill "vaccine diplomacy" void as other powers struggle

Go deeper

Updated Aug 16, 2021 - Health

Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks 2 counties' mask mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (left) and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc./Corbis via Getty Images

The Texas Supreme Court granted an emergency stay to the state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott, over his ban on face mask mandates on Sunday.

Why it matters: The stay overrides lower court rulings in favor of local authorities in the counties of Dallas and Bexar, which includes San Antonio, to temporarily impose mask mandates despite Abbott's May executive order.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

3 hours ago - Technology

Race and technology in America

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The technology industry is famously determined to change the world — but its efforts to diversify its workforce and remove bias from its products haven't changed nearly enough.

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