EU, UK challenge waiver of COVID weapons patent


Credit: Citrix Public Domain / CC0

The EU, UK and Japan continued to question the proposed waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 products such as vaccines at the WTO on Monday, according to Geneva trade officials.

At an informal meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization, a proposal to start a textual discussion on the waiver of intellectual property rights rather than more discussions. General has gained momentum, officials said.

Officials said the United States, China, Ukraine and New Zealand had supported offers to waive certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement related to necessary medical tools for prevention, containment or treatment. to fight COVID-19.

However, some members said they “questioned the convenience of entering into negotiations and requested more time” to analyze the proposal.

This includes the European Union, Australia, Brazil, United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan.

The WTO agreement requires the agreement of the 164 member states.

India and South Africa came up with their first idea in October. They have submitted amendments and are currently receiving clear support from 63 WTO member states.

According to new documents circulated by them and other supporters, the exemption should apply not only to vaccines, but also to treatments, diagnostics, medical devices, protective equipment and the materials and components needed to manufacture them. is there.

He says the exemption must last “at least three years” from the date of entry into force, after which the WTO General Council must decide to extend it.

Differences in the importance of intellectual property

Trade officials disagree on whether intellectual property protection maintains the objective of overcoming the pandemic, its scope, and the use and potential enhancement of existing flexibility under the conditions of TRIPS. He said it was happening.

Questions have also been raised about the proposed waiver period and termination, officials said.

The United States said it was open to text-based consultations on proposals that could address the urgent need for growth. Vaccine production, he said.

China said it was time to take the next step, with the first proposal drafted in October, officials added.

Pakistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia and Kenya have expressed the need for negotiations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, the EU has said its immediate goal is to increase production alongside measures such as lifting export restrictions on vaccine raw materials.

Switzerland, which is also home to large pharmaceutical companies, said trade officials have said WTO member states should look for ways to take advantage of TRIPS flexibility rather than giving it up altogether.

The TRIPS Council will hold a formal meeting on June 8-9.

According to AFP counts, more than 1.9 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been injected in at least 213 regions of the world.

Only 0.3% was administered in 29 low-income countries, where 9% of the world’s population live.

Proponents argue that the temporary withdrawal of intellectual property rights will boost production in developing countries and resolve dramatic inequalities in access.

This idea has long faced stiff opposition from pharmaceutical giants and their host countries, arguing that patents are not a major obstacle to expanding production and that the move could hamper innovation. . I warned you.

It appears the position changed earlier this month as Washington backed the global vaccine patent waiver and other longtime opponents expressed openness to discussing the matter.

Countries ask for broader patent waiver, not just COVID vaccine

© 2021 AFP

Quote: EU and UK patent exemption for COVID weapons obtained from on June 1, 2021 ( 2021) I have a question about (June 1).

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