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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in Berlin in November 2020. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The Biden administration's support for a proposal to waive certain patent protections for coronavirus vaccines would create “severe complications” for vaccine production, a German government spokesperson said Thursday, according to Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The patent waiver proposal, which proponents say will help increase vaccine production and deliver doses to the developing world, is working its way through the World Trade Organization and all 164 member countries will have to consent to the decision, according to Reuters.

  • Negotiations over the waiver are expected to last for months.

Context: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai signaled Wednesday that the U.S. would support the waiver during WTO negotiations.

  • The waiver was proposed by South Africa and India, which has been hit hard by a recent surge in new coronavirus cases.

The big picture: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that the European Union was "ready to discuss" the proposal, according to Reuters.

  • Critics of the 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

Aug 14, 2021 - Health

Excess COVID cases, deaths linked to wildfire smoke in new study

Flames rise during the fire in the village of Peyki as firefigters and residents continue to respond on the fifth day of a wildfire in the area north of the island of Evia, Greece, on Aug. 8. Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Exposure to high levels of fine particle pollution produced by wildfires may have led to thousands more COVID cases and deaths, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Why it matters: Research has shown that smoke can have dangerous health impacts, a correlation that is putting more and more at risk as the pandemic collides with the climate crisis.

Oregon governor sending 1,500 National Guard troops to assist hospitals

Photo: Nathan Howard via Getty Images

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she is deploying up to 1,500 National Guard troops to support hospitals as Delta continues to reach across the United States.

Why it matters: 733 Oregonians are currently hospitalized with severe cases, including 185 in intensive care, Brown said.

Biden administration offers aid to Florida schools defying DeSantis order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photos: Joe Raedle and Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Biden administration is stepping in to offer financial assistance to Florida educators defying Gov. Ron DeSantis' law banning local K-12 mask mandates.

Why it matters: The battle over mask mandates in schools has been brewing for weeks. The Republican governor recently threatened to withhold pay from superintendents and school board members who go against his ban.