No consensus at WTO on IP waiver for Covid-19 vaccine

MUMBAI: World Trade Organisation (WTO) members took up the “game-changing” waiver proposal submitted jointly by India and South Africa at the TRIPS Council even as opposition from rich countries continued, leading to no consensus.

The members on Tuesday agreed on continued consideration of the proposal but made clear they remain far from reaching a consensus, sources told TOI.

While there was no indication of changes in their well-known positions at the informal meeting of the TRIPS Council held Tuesday, some 30 members engaged in advancing the discussion and extensively exchanged views on this issue after the series of meetings held since the proposal was initially submitted on October 2 last year.

The proposal seeking waiver of intellectual property (IP) on Covid-19 drugs and vaccines has huge implications for developing countries which are finding it tough to access life-saving Covid-19 vaccines. Rich countries have cut huge deals, monopolising the global supply of vaccines, posing a serious risk to equitable access for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, with the world “on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure”.

The intellectual property (IP) waiver would allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other IPs related to Covid-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies for the duration of the pandemic, until global herd immunity is achieved.

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