Backers of IP waiver for COVID-19 drugs make fresh push at WTO

FILE PHOTO: A senior citizen receives the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination center in Le Cannet, France, January 19, 2021. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - South Africa and India argued in favour of a waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 drugs and vaccines at a closed-door meeting of the World Trade Organization on Tuesday but opponents showed little sign of budging, trade sources said.

Proponents of the temporary waiver as the pandemic continues to rage say that IP rules are hindering the urgent scale-up of COVID-19 vaccine production amid growing criticism of the inequitable distribution of shots.

The waiver's critics include the European Union, the United States and Switzerland, all home to major pharmaceutical companies. Some have argued that waiving IP rights does not address the manufacturing and distribution capacity problems that are currently impeding drug supplies.

Two trade sources familiar with the discussions said that there was no indication of a shift in established positions at the meeting in Geneva of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

In the run-up to the talks, proponents published a 30-page response to some questions raised by opposing countries.

"One of the key reasons underlying insufficient supply and impacting procurement is the way major vaccine developers are managing their IP and technologies," the document said.

"If we allow ramping up of manufacturing, and diversifying of supply options there will be more timely and equitable distribution."

Shailly Gupta from French medical charity MSF (Doctors Without Borders) said that opposing countries seemed to be deliberately seeking to buy time.

"It is important to note that sponsors of this proposal are being repeatedly asked a similar set of questions in an attempt to stall the process," she said.

If the council agrees on a position, it will submit a proposal to the WTO's General Council, whose 164 members typically make decisions by consensus only.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Sonya Hepinstall)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Did you find this article insightful?


Next In World

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee approves Burns to lead CIA
Spain lowers coronavirus tally after recount, infection rate falls
France's Macron tells Iran 'clear gestures' needed to revive nuclear deal
Italy closes schools in worst-hit coronavirus areas
France reports 22,857 new COVID-19 cases over 24 hours
Plan for new Lisbon airport blocked, government pushes for solution
UK welcomes EU and U.S. sanctions over poisoning of Kremlin foe Navalny
France, allies to push on with protest at IAEA over Iran's activities - foreign minister
Russia will respond to new EU sanctions over Navalny - envoy
U.S. Treasury Department slaps sanctions on 7 Russian officials over Navalny poisoning

Stories You'll Enjoy