India and US hold talks on increasing Covid vaccine availability, TRIPS waiver
Union industry and commerce minister Piyush Goyal on Friday held a virtual meeting with the United States Trade representative Katherine Tai with regard to increasing the availability of vaccine doses against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) ‘in an inclusive and equitable manner’ to fight against the global pandemic, according to a statement issued by the ministry of commerce and industry.
Goyal and Tai also held talks on both India and the United States working together on the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver with a view to ensure that vaccine doses are affordable to all.
“The proposal of India on waiver of certain TRIPS provisions to increase global vaccine production in order to take on the challenge of vaccinating the poorest of the poor and saving lives was also discussed. Goyal thanked Tai for the US announcing its support for India’s proposal,” the statement said.
During the meeting, Tai spoke about her backing for the waiver of intellectual property protection for vaccines and text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which are a part of President Joe Administration’s efforts to expand manufacturing and distribution of vaccines doses across the globe, the office of the US Trade Representative said in a statement.
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She also expressed her sympathy towards the worsening situation in India due to the second wave of the pandemic and reasserted United States’ commitment to help the latter during the crisis.
The WTO agreement on TRIPS is a detailed multilateral agreement on intellectual property. In October 2020, India, South Africa and 57 other members of the WTO had proposed a waiver from specific provisions of the TRIPS agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of the Covid-19 disease, news agency ANI reported.
Last week, the United States government announced its support for a global waiver on patent protections for vaccines in order to boost its supply globally. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” US Trade Representative Tai said in a statement on May 6. The United States government will soon negotiate the terms at the WTO.
However, European leaders and several drug manufactures including Germany’s BioNTech have opposed this move. Ugur Sahin, the chief executive officer (CEO) of BioNTech, which is manufacturing vaccines along with US based Pfizer, told news agency AP on May 10 there is no need to waive patents as manufacturers will be able to produce sufficient vaccine doses to supply to all countries in the coming year.
(With agency inputs)