CAPE TOWN – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has thrown its weight behind South Africa and India’s bid to ease intellectual property agreements that might pose a challenge to gain access to Covid-19 vaccine, once it is available.
“WHO welcomes South Africa’s and India’s recent proposal to WTO to ease international and intellectual property agreements on Covid-19 vaccines, treatments & tests in order to make the tools available to all who need them at an affordable cost,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom said in a tweet.
WHO’ support comes after the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council’s recent meeting which failed to reach a consensus on the issue.
In the run-up to the meeting, supporters of the IP waiver bid pointed out that wealthy nations representing only 13 percent of the global population have locked up at least half the doses of the world’s five leading potential vaccines.
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Argentina and Indonesia also support the IP waiver bid. While the European Union, US, Switzerland, UK and Brazil resisted. The countries resisting the waiver pointed out that the TRIPS Agreement had flexibilities to facilitate access.
According to reports, relaxing the provisions pertaining to intellectual property rights could not only speed up the vaccine development process but would also allow poorer and developing countries to gain access to it.
“As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns how these will be made available promptly in sufficient quantities and at an affordable price to meet global demand,” the two countries said in their appeal.
It is reported that not only vaccines but procuring test kits, medicines will also be difficult for poor countries. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany have already finalised deals with several vaccine manufacturers for procurement of millions of doses.
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