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The U.S. government wants to extend a Dec. 17 deadline for waiving intellectual property protection for Covid-19 diagnostics and treatments, a move that is likely to impede the chances for a World Trade Organization agreement to bolster global access to needed medical products.

Instead, the U.S. trade representative indicated the Biden administration will ask the U.S. International Trade Commission to first investigate “market dynamics,” such as pricing, supply and demand, the relationship between testing and treating, and production and access. Such investigations typically take nine to 12 months to conclude, which means a waiver is unlikely to be revisited for a year or longer.

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