Proposal to waive Covid vaccine IP rights continues to hit roadblocks

    Six months ago, South Africa and India had submitted a proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive patents to Covid vaccine development. However, it has continued to get stonewalled by few rich and high income countries such as the US, UK, and Canada, etc.

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    The proposal’s main goal is to facilitate the local manufacturing of vaccines and other treatments for Covid 19. This in turn would be a huge boost for the vaccination program on a global scale. The proposal was backed by over 100 nations, most of which are developing countries.

    WTO members are going to have a virtual meeting during this week and discuss the matter as it has become very urgent. The second and third waves of the pandemic has surged to the highest levels across the world and once again disrupted the lives of all in low or middle income countries.

    The WTO members’ virtual meet has been convened due to this global resurgence of the virus. Informal talks about temporarily waiving patent and intellectual property rights on coronavirus treatments and vaccines will be held at the meet.

    The significance and urgency of waiving the rights has been highlighted by a number of global institutions and personalities such as WHO, Nobel laureates, medical professionals, trade unions, civil society organizations, former global leaders, human rights groups, and international health charities, etc

    On an average, around 1 in 4 people from rich countries have taken the vaccine as of April 2021. Comparatively, an average of 1 in 500 people in low-income or poor nations has received the vaccine. Such a ‘shocking imbalance’ with regards to the circulation of Covid vaccines during this global pandemic has repeatedly been rebuked by the World Health Organization.

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