Health advocates alarmed by PH’s silence on TRIPS vaccine waiver


Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat


MANILA – Health experts and lawmakers have expressed dismay at the Philippine government’s silence on aspects of trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) as developing countries continue to struggle to access COVID-19 vaccines .

“We have seen the TRIPS waiver for over six months now and the deafening silence of the Philippine government is very alarming despite our vaccine czar Carlito Galvez mentioning that 80% of vaccines have already been purchased by rich countries”, Josh San Pedro, Coalition for the Right of People to Health spokesperson said.

The TRIPS Agreement, which covers medicines, aims to protect pharmaceutical innovations and inventions for a minimum patentability period of 20 to 25 years. This will supposedly provide pharmaceutical companies with an opportunity to recoup the investments used in the development of these new drugs.

India and South Africa are both in talks with other developing countries to support the suspension of TRIPS in medicines since October 2020. This aims to ensure better access to medicines and to eliminate the in-depth negotiations that cause delays in vaccine production and procurement and testing. kits amid the global pandemic. The waiver will cover agreements on trade secrets, patents, copyright and industrial designs.

In an online interview with Bulatlat, San Pedro said the government has been silent because it fears it will lose investments from foreign pharmaceutical companies who are said to be planning to build a production facility here.

“It seems they were only relying on cash loans and vaccines from the COVAX facility,” he added.

Economic implication of TRIPS in the Philippines

In an online forum on May 26, the Coalition for the Right of Individuals to Health discussed the political, economic and health implications of TRIPS in the Philippines.

Sonny Africa of the independent think tank Ibon Foundation said vaccines are the key to economic recovery and that waiving TRIPS promises herd immunity faster and cheaper.

According to data from the Ibon Foundation and Duke University, high-income countries with a lower population have more access to vaccines than low-income countries with a significantly higher population (estimated at 85% of the population). world population). Canada, for example, with 38 million people, can immunize its entire population ten times as much, based on the number of vaccines purchased at 381 million doses.

The Philippine government aims to acquire seventy million doses by 2021 but, as of May, only eight million had been received.

On average, at least 42,000 doses of vaccine are administered per day. If this continues, Africa said, it will take nine years for the country to complete the 140 million administered doses needed for herd immunity.

“The more we create these artificial shortages due to market-governed monopolies, the more the pandemic becomes a man-made and capitalism-induced catastrophe. Economic collapse and suffering not from lack of vaccines but from poor public health response and lack of aid and economic recovery, ”he added.

Gabriela Women’s Party representative Arlene Brosas said there was no mention of TRIPS in congressional hearings and lawmakers had no prior knowledge of the TRIPS waiver and the position of the TRIPs. Philippines on the matter. The Makabayan Bloc has already tabled a resolution urging the government to support the TRIPS waiver. (

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