At the summit, EU countries were divided over their position on Biden's proposal. Germany and France strongly opposed exemptions, saying the key to ending the COVID-19 was faster production and sharing of vaccines, while Italy came out in favour of exemptions. The European Commission is inclined to oppose immunity.
Speaking after the first day of the summit, the president of the European Commission said sharing technology was not a quick response to the outbreak. Officials said EU leaders were likely to heed the commission's recommendations.
Speaking at the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said patents on the COVID-19 vaccine were not the key issue at hand, accusing Britain and the United States of blocking exports of the vaccine and raw materials.
"What is the current problem? It's really not about intellectual property. Can you give [Coronavirus] intellectual property to a laboratory that doesn't know how to make it and won't do it tomorrow?" "The main issue of solidarity is the distribution of vaccine doses," Macron said.
Mr Macron added that France was working hand in hand with Germany on the issue. Already on Thursday, Germany expressed opposition to Mr. Biden's proposal to support exemptions for vaccine intellectual property rights.
The European Union is one of the world's largest producers of vaccines and is currently the main source of vaccine exports. So far, the European Union has shipped 200 million doses of vaccine outside the EU, while the United States and the United Kingdom have not exported any COVID-19 vaccine.
As a result, Macron lashed out at both Britain and the United States. "In order for the vaccine to circulate, you cannot lock up the raw materials and the vaccine itself," he said. Today, the Anglo-Saxons are blocking a lot of the raw materials and vaccines."
European Commission: Sharing vaccine technology is not a quick solution to the epidemic
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, also told a news conference after the first day of the summit in Porto that the EU was open to discussions on patents, but that sharing technology was not a quick response to the outbreak.
"IP exemptions are not going to solve the problem in the short to medium term, and this path is not going to lead to a single dose of vaccine in the short to medium term," she said.
Some EU officials believe it could take two years to reach an agreement on patent exemptions at the World Trade Organisation, which is likely to do nothing at all to tackle the current epidemic.
The officials also said EU leaders were likely to heed the Commission's recommendation that exempting intellectual property rights would do little to boost vaccine production, especially in poorer countries, because the process requires advanced technology and facilities.
Moderna announced back in October that it would not enforce patent protection or Sue for patent infringement against its vaccine, but no other company has announced that it will attempt to replicate the vaccine because it uses the latest mRNA technology.
Biontech, a German company that holds a patent on another mRNA vaccine developed jointly with Pfizer of the US, opposes the exemption, EU officials said.
The industry believes that the best way forward is to overcome existing production bottlenecks and sell or donate vaccines to countries around the world. A number of EU countries and institutions share the same view.
"We are not safe until everyone is safe. Our victory over COVID-19 will be short-lived if we only vaccinate in developed countries." "We have seen how quickly the virus can mutate, which poses new challenges," the leaders of Belgium, Sweden, France, Denmark and Spain said in a joint letter to the European Commission.