South Africa & India Ask EU to Break Silence on the TRIPS Waiver for Covid-19 Vaccines

After several weeks of deadlock, South Africa and India have asked the European Union (EU) to put forward a clear solution and break silence on the TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines and drugs instead of only blocking the proposal that looks forward to ensuring that people in developing and poor nations are protected from the pandemic.

According to the Indian officials, in recent weeks, the EU has come to the negotiating table to work on a possible way out with various sources in Geneva, hinting that the trading bloc might come around to agreeing to limit the flexibility to patent waiver only for Covid-19 vaccines.

To date, the proposal put forward by India and South Africa has been backed by more than 100 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It looks forward to providing copyright, patent, and other Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) waivers for vaccines, medical devices, and therapeutics.

As of now, the EU has recommended that the vaccine manufacturers who can and are ready to produce the Covid-19 vaccination shots may start producing them without worrying about obtaining Patent Protection.

The WTO secretariat is eager to find an adequate solution way ahead of this month’s ministerial meeting in Geneva, although the details are very much unlikely to be finalized in the coming three weeks. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Chief at WTO, is eager to deliver a trade and health package at the ministerial meeting and is looking forward to receiving support from different countries, including India, to back the fisheries agreement in return.

The EU, Japan, Switzerland, and the UK are the only nations opposing the proposal and are not even willing to discuss the draft floated by South Africa and India. Also, within the EU, only a handful of nations like Germany are opposing the proposal.

Even though South Africa has its ‘vaccine hub,’ it doesn’t seem to have extracted many benefits from it, keeping aside the mRNA facility fulfilling the requirements of other African nations.

India, on its part, is keen to find a solution to the vaccination issue at the earliest though many officials have claimed that ratcheting up the demand has implied that developed nations, at the minimum, stop blocking the supply of the key inputs and look forward to addressing the major vaccine inequality. Furthermore, India has also got the EU to suggest using the route of compulsory licensing, which enables opting for the patent waiver in the case of national emergencies; and this is something that the developed nations had always opposed.

As per the Government sources, multiple options are being looked at by various developing nations, and some of them may go ahead with the compulsory licensing route. For more visit:

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