WTO to start Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Negotiations

World Trade Organization (WTO) is set to start formal Covid-19 Vaccine Supply negotiations in a bid to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply in developing countries.

Key points

  • However, the proposal face rival as one is with waiver of intellectual property rights while the other is without a waiver of intellectual property rights.
  • South Africa, India and other emerging nations have been pushing for a temporary waiver of IP rights on vaccines and other treatments. If proposal is accepted, it could allow local manufacturers to produce vaccine doses and reduce inequity of vaccine supply.
  • However, developed nations are arguing that waiver would not boost production and only undermine future research & development on vaccines & therapeutics.
  • US also shifted its decision to support the waiver, heaping a pressure on opponents.
  • European Union along with Britain, Switzerland and South Korea argued that, IP waiver would more effectively broaden supply. EU is of the view that, EU already allow countries to grant licences to manufacturers without patent-holder’s consent.

WTO discussion

WTO members will start discussions on June 17 which will determine format of negotiations and produce a report on progress of vaccine supply plan by July 21-22.

Waiver Proposal

Waiver proposal from emerging nations also comprises of diagnostics, therapeutics and medical devices. Proposal might also set a time span of “at least three years” and allow a single WTO member to prolong it indefinitely.

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