Patent waiver talks falter on developed nations’ hurdles

Source: Times of India


After showing some promise, the patent waiver talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) have hit a hurdle due to a split between the developed and developing countries.

What developing countries want, and what is the EU proposing?

India and South Africa have suggested that their proposal for Covid drugs, vaccines and aids should be the basis for “line by line negotiations”. This is backed by 60 developing and poor countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the African group.

But the European Union has rejected several arguments put forward by the developing countries. Instead, the EU wants its proposal to be taken up on an equal footing.

About EU’s proposal:

The EU’s proposal calls for the following things.

  • Limiting export restrictions on vaccines,
  • Supporting the expansion of production of vaccines,
  • Facilitating the use of current compulsory licensing provisions in the TRIPS Agreement,
  • The EU also wants to clarify that the requirement to negotiate with the right holder of the vaccine patent does not apply in urgent situations such as a pandemic.

Other contentions regarding waiver:

  • The US has agreed to negotiations on the waiver, wants the waiver to be limited to vaccines. On the other hand, India and South Africa want it to include everything from pulse oximeters and masks to medicines and vaccines.
  • Apart from the US and EU, Switzerland, the UK & Japan along with Brazil, Mexico & Colombia also have concerns about the India-South Africa proposal.

Vaccine waiver

Source: TOI

Why India and South Africa demanding such proposals?

  • The WHO resolution includes medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, assistance products, cell and gene-based therapies, health products and technologies, which are critical for the prevention, treatment and containment of Covid-19. So, including vaccines alone is not enough to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Early conclusion of talks is essential for the poor countries to get quick access to drugs and vaccines and can combat coronavirus before it mutates further.

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