57 countries back India's demand for intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 vaccine: Goyal

Published on Feb 25, 2021 02:49 PM IST

In October of last year, India and South Africa proposed a TRIPS waiver for all WTO members to allow greater access to affordable Covid-19 healthcare facilities

At Ficci’s International Conference on Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Sector, Piyush Goyal also said that developed countries are under pressure. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse(REUTERS)
At Ficci’s International Conference on Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Sector, Piyush Goyal also said that developed countries are under pressure. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse(REUTERS)
By | Edited by Ayshee Bhaduri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said 57 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have supported a joint proposal by India and South Africa for “equitable access to medicines and other products” during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

At Ficci’s International Conference on Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Sector, Goyal also said that developed countries are under pressure as they talk about a multilateral fight against the Covid-19 pandemic while protecting the interests of a few companies in terms of innovation and research and development.

“We have 57 WTO members supporting us. The developed world is under pressure as on one hand, they talk about supporting each other in the multilateral fight against Covid but on other hand, they're looking at protecting the interest of few companies only in terms of innovation or R&D” the minister said, as quoted by ANI.

Calling world leaders to join India’s proposal, the minister tweeted on Thursday, “World cannot continue to engage in endless discussions while millions of lives & livelihoods are lost. Intellectual Property waiver on Covid-19 medicine provides an opportunity to rejuvenate the world. Hope the world leaders join India in that effort.”.

In October of last year, India and South Africa proposed a Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for all WTO members for certain provisions of copyrights, patents, and protection of undisclosed information to allow greater access to affordable Covid-19 healthcare facilities, like vaccines, especially for developing and middle-income countries.

“India is at the forefront along with South Africa, in a proposal we had introduced in Oct 2020 before WTO in the TRIPS Council for a TRIPS waiver during Covid pandemic to allow more countries to get equitable access to medicines & other products, waiving IPR regime,” Goyal said at the conference.

The waiver is being opposed by China, the European Union, the UK, the US Switzerland, Japan, and Australia, among others. The TRIPS waiver has garnered the strong support of around 90 countries, reported news agency ANI. The ultimate decision on the waiver will be taken by all member states of WTO at the General Council in March, 2021.

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