Covid vaccines: EU ignores India, S Africa’s patent waiver plea at WTO

MUMBAI: The European Union has submitted a draft declaration at the World Trade Organization (WTO), “ignoring” the objectives of intellectual property (IP) waiver jointly sought by India and South Africa on Covid drugs and vaccines. While the waiver proposal is backed by over 100 countries, the EU has resisted it for eight months now.
The EU declaration, which reiterates its position of using existing provisions under the WTO’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement during the pandemic, is being perceived by public health experts as a diversionary tactic.
This could delay the progress of reaching a consensus on the waiver, which is critical to address the stark inequities in access to Covid vaccines globally. If adopted, the waiver is expected to provide countries with critical policy space to address IP barriers to increase collaboration in research and development, manufacturing and scale-up, and hence boost supply of Covid medicines and vaccines.
The declaration comes ahead of an informal meeting of a small group of countries at the TRIPS Council on June 24, where it is expected to be discussed. Hopes had risen among WTO members that the negotiations will be fast-tracked, and a possible consensus may emerge soon.
In its position made public earlier this month, the EU reaffirmed the content of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, and asked governments to “facilitate the use of compulsory licensing”.

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