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Co-sponsors propose at least three year patent waiver for covid drugs, vaccines

Addressing the concern that the initial text proposed by India and South Africa in October last year was too broad based, the revised text focuses on 'health products and technologies'. (Reuters)Premium
Addressing the concern that the initial text proposed by India and South Africa in October last year was too broad based, the revised text focuses on 'health products and technologies'. (Reuters)

  • The patent waiver proposal spearheaded by India and South Africa received a boost from 62 co-sponsors that have proposed the temporary waiver to be in place for at least three years, given the uncertainty regarding vaccine effectiveness for children and against new variants

NEW DELHI: The proposal for a patent waiver to boost supplies of life-saving drugs and vaccines for covid-19, pioneered by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), received a boost as 62 co-sponsors have proposed the temporary waiver to be in place for at least three years advocating a practical and flexible duration given the uncertainty regarding vaccine effectiveness for children and against new variants.

“This waiver shall be in force for at least 3 years from the date of this decision. The General Council shall, thereafter, review the existence of the exceptional circumstances justifying the waiver, and if such circumstances cease to exist, the General Council shall determine the date of termination of the waiver," the revised proposal based on which text-based negotiations will begin at WTO said. The proposal submitted on Friday is now co-sponsored by the African Group, Bolivia, Egypt, Eswatini, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kenya, LDC group, Maldives, Mozambique, Mongolia, Namibia, Pakistan, South Africa, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Addressing the concern that the initial text proposed by India and South Africa in October last year was too broad based, the revised text focuses on "health products and technologies".

“The prevention, treatment or containment of covid-19 involves a range of products and technologies, and intellectual property issues may arise with respect to the products and technologies, their materials or components, as well as their methods and means of manufacture," according to the draft text.

The proposal has gained momentum after the US, earlier this month, came out in the open supporting the idea and expressing its readiness for text-based negotiation at the WTO.

Leena Menghaney, South Asia head at MSF Access Campaign said the revised proposal is aimed at ensuring that the TRIPS waiver is tailored to meet the needs of this pandemic and urged the last remaining governments that keep dragging their feet, especially the EU, to urgently get behind this proposal.

“We are pleased to see the governments sponsoring the covid-19 intellectual property waiver proposal reaffirm that the waiver aims to remove monopoly barriers for all medical tools, including medicines, diagnostic tests, vaccines and other equipment and materials needed to tackle this pandemic, for a minimum period of three years. With a frightening increase in infections and deaths in developing countries, and with potentially promising treatments in the pipeline, it is crucial that governments have every flexibility at their disposal to beat back this pandemic," she added.

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