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New York

WTO’s 12th ministerial conference: India demands IPR waiver on Covid vaccines

India on Monday cautioned the developed world that any global deal on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic would be incomplete without an intellectual property rights (IPR) waiver for vaccines and other products.

waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for these products.

India and 64 developing members want a TRIPS waiver to be part of the response.

At a thematic session on Response to Pandemic and TRIPS Waiver at MC12, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal also slammed pharmaceutical companies, saying super-profits of a few drugmakers cannot prevail over global good.

“We can’t have a pandemic response that does not deliver an effective and workable outcome on TRIPS. Nor can we agree to any pre-shipment notification requirements,” Goyal said.

He stated that India has made several compromises such as the automaticity clause, which was not accepted, extensive dilution of the language on IP and tech transfer, muted ambition on food security, and economic resilience.

Calling the proposed text for the global deal the “only clean negotiated document”, Goyal said, “Therefore disturbing this delicately poised document even slightly would unravel the months-long complex negotiations and will run the risk of failing an outcome which we are close to achieving.”

His statement assumes significance in the wake of the UK and Switzerland continuing to block the successful conclusion of the waiver and pandemic response despite it being supported by many developing countries.

enhancing supply and ensuring equitable and affordable access. However, at present, the proposed waiver is restricted to vaccines only.

“Regrettably though the discussions reached a deadlock in the TRIPS council,” Goyal said.

The main elements of the text, which are under negotiations of the WTO’s response to the pandemic, include the TRIPS waiver proposal, food security, how trade should be facilitated during the time of the pandemic, export restrictions, and trade measures, transparency, and role of the services sector.

India has issues with regard to transparency, export restrictions, and market openness.

Asking WTO members to redouble their efforts and commence negotiations on therapeutics and diagnostics as well, the minister said while vaccines are for preventive needs, there is a need to ramp up the manufacturing of therapeutics and diagnostics to achieve a comprehensive test and treat strategy.

He said vaccines are no longer in scarcity as sufficient and affordable stocks are available across the world.

In fact, vaccines are now getting wasted due to expiry dates. Despite that, there is opposition to some of the clauses even now, he said, adding that there is opposition to including therapeutics and diagnostics which could pave the way for future needs to tackle any crisis.

India also said the outcome should include services such as travel and tourism that need aid during a pandemic and other services such as telemedicine.

“There has to be some kind of mechanism for mutual recognition of services such as telemedicine,” said an official who requested not to be identified. “Doctors and healthcare professionals should be able to extend their services globally during a pandemic.”

Source: India Times