WTO members remain divided over copyright of COVID-19 vaccines

During the meeting on July 27, the member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) still did not reach a consensus on the proposal to exempt intellectual property rights for copyright of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: AFP
Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: AFP

On the first day of discussion within the framework of the two-day meeting of the WTO General Assembly at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, representatives of the countries focused on discussing the WTO Agreement on the Agreement on Trade Aspects. Trade related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and provisions relating to prevention, containment and treatment tools to combat COVID-19.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said all 164 member countries agreed that increasing production of a COVID-19 vaccine was necessary, but disagreed on how best to do so. achieve this goal.

The discussion covered a number of key issues, notably the duration of copyright exemptions, the scope of pharmaceuticals covered, and the application of provisions in TRIPS, while there were still some inconsistencies. agreement on how to implement waivers and protect confidential information. However, Mr. Rockwell said all sides focused their efforts on "producing a realistic outcome, whatever that outcome is".

According to Mr. Rockwell, currently countries like ‌Senegal, ‌Bangladesh,‌ India, South Africa, Thailand, Morocco and Egypt have excess production capacity, but do not have full access to technology and know-how. develop a vaccine against COVID-19. He emphasized that the current problem is how to exploit that unused resource.

The idea of ​​​​temporarily exempting COVID-19 vaccine copyrights was launched by South Africa and India in October 2020 to increase vaccine production, solve the problem of inequality in vaccine access by allowing countries to have the need and capacity, especially in developing countries, to be able to self-produce vaccines.

The proposal has received the support of many countries, including the US and China, and many international organizations. However, pharmaceutical companies and the host countries of vaccine factories now object, saying that vaccine copyright is not the biggest barrier to increasing production, while the exemption will eliminate the dynamics of the virus. innovation force.

Under WTO rules, any proposal that wants to be approved must be approved by all 164 member countries. According to Rockwell, discussions about vaccine patent exemptions must continue because this is a very important issue right now. It is expected that the WTO will have an informal meeting in early September to discuss the issue of intellectual property rights against COVID-19 vaccines, followed by a formal meeting on October 13-14.

According to statistics, nearly 4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed around the world, but only 0.9% of these have been administered to people in the 29 poorest countries, which account for 9% of the world's population. gender.

Google Tech News

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