Thu, 17 Jun 2021

US backs TRIPS waiver on vaccines at WTO

06 May 2021, 18:37 GMT+10

By Naveen KapoorWashington DC [US], May 6 (ANI): The United States is proving to be a real friend to India as it continues to battle the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After sending tonnes of medical aid in form of oxygen concentrators, generators, and critical medicine like Remdesivir to Delhi, the US has now decided to back India/South Africa joint proposal for TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

US trade representative Ambassador Katherine Tai said, "These extraordinary times and circumstances call for extraordinary measures, The US supports the waiver of IP protection on COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic and will actively participate in WTO negotiation to make that happen."In October last year, India and South Africa, along with 57 members of WTO proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement for prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19.

India believes that intellectual property rights are potentially hindering timely provisioning of vaccine manufacturing and affordable medical products to the patients including vaccines. As things stand, some WTO members have carried out urgent legal amendments to their national patent laws to expedite the process of issuing compulsory/government use licenses.

Beyond patents, other intellectual property rights may also pose a barrier, with limited options to overcome those barriers. In addition, many countries especially developing ones may face institutional and legal difficulties when using flexibilities available in the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

After the announcement made on Wednesday, US support will give a fillip to achieve TRIPS waiver at WTO and will unblock various impediments in ramping up the production of vaccines. However, this is a time-consuming process and the case will go to the General Council.

Earlier, the US had relented after continuous pressure from developing countries led by India and South Africa, also the Biden administration witnessed domestic pressure as more than 100 lawmakers urged the US President to support the waiver.

Amid the acute shortage of vaccines, India has announced its phase three vaccination drive which entitles every citizen above 18 to get a jab.

India as if now have two major vaccine developers Serum institute and Bharat biotech, Russian vaccine Sputnik has also entered but they will only be able to scale up production by later this year. It will now be counting on more global manufacturers to fulfill the requirement and US support to waiver is certainly a piece of welcome news for India. (ANI)

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