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Monday, June 21, 2021

India, others push for TRIPS waiver scope beyond Covid vaccine at WTO

India is among 62 World Trade Organization (WTO) members that are pushing this draft, which limits the waiver period to three years, with a provision to review the duration.

Written by Prabha Raghavan | New Delhi |
May 23, 2021 6:59:44 am
“The co-sponsors stress that the proposed waiver is limited in scope to Covid-19 prevention, treatment and containment,” stated the draft circulated by the WTO secretariat on May 21.

With the aim to progress to text-based discussions on their proposal to waive certain provisions of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, India and South Africa have decided to make more specific their request for a waiver by stating that it should focus on “health products and technologies”.

India is among 62 World Trade Organization (WTO) members that are pushing this draft, which limits the waiver period to three years, with a provision to review the duration. However, the proposal continues to push for a waiver on a wider segment of products as opposed to just Covid-19 vaccines — products that the US and the European Union have agreed to consider for an intellectual property rights waiver during the ongoing pandemic.

“The co-sponsors stress that the proposed waiver is limited in scope to Covid-19 prevention, treatment and containment,” stated the draft circulated by the WTO secretariat on May 21.

The revised proposal aims to increase global access to several crucial medical products to help countries more effectively tackle the contagious virus with affordable and accessible tools.

Apart from India and South Africa, the co-sponsors include the African Group, the LDC Group, Bolivia, Egypt, Eswatini, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mozambique, Mongolia, Namibia, Pakistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

The members have said the draft proposal has been revised to add specificity to the original decision text, which was seen as being wide in scope.

On the reasons for adding a paragraph on the proposed duration in the revised text, the co-sponsors said that the international community is dealing with a novel pathogen, with many uncertainties.

“For instance, investigation is still underway for effective therapeutics, and there are still many unknowns with respect to vaccines which will have a bearing on the scale of manufacturing and supply that will be needed to control the pandemic such as the duration of immunity conferred, effectiveness of vaccines against new variants, and the effect of vaccines on children … These complexities suggest the need for a practical and flexible duration,” the proposal noted.

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