WTO should temporarily waive IP rights on Covid-19 vaccines: Study
The study, published in the Journal of Media Ethics, said temporarily waiving the intellectual property rights would help more firms manufacture the vaccines and help fight the pandemic
A recent study published in an international journal has suggested that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) temporarily waive an agreement that protects intellectual property rights held by pharma companies producing vaccines against the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease. The study, published in the Journal of Media Ethics, said the move would help more firms manufacture the vaccines and help fight the pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives across the world and is continuing to wreak havoc.
According to a report in Mirage News, the lead author of the study Nancy Jecker said a waiver is the best way to expedite distribution of vaccines in low- and middle-income nations where the inoculation drive has been very slow due to hoarding by richer nations. “Over 100 Nobel laureates and 75 former heads of state, as well as President Biden, have expressed support for a waiver. Opponents seem not to be defending intellectual property protections on ethical grounds but in the interest of profits,” the professor of bioethics and humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine was quoted as saying in the report.
She argued that while the IP waiver “isn’t a silver bullet,” it is one of many steps that health-minded organisations should take to protect the world from COVID-19 as well as from future pandemic that may hit the world.
Meanwhile, nine Democratic US lawmakers have urged Germany to drop its "blockade" of a waiver of IP rights under global trade rules and asked Chancellor Angela Merkel to meet with them during her visit to Washington. According to a report in Reuters, the lawmakers said they were troubled that Germany was leading EU opposition to a proposed waiver being discussed at the WTO.
"The United States and almost every other WTO member seeks to enact a COVID emergency temporary TRIPS waiver as quickly as possible," they wrote in a letter to German Ambassador Emily Haber, adding that production of COVID-19 vaccines must be increased to save millions of lives.
The German embassy had no immediate comment. The Joe Biden administration says the waiver will help boost global production of coronavirus vaccines. German officials and pharmaceutical companies have argued that the firms have invested their own funds to develop vaccines and that waiving their IP rights would undermine such work in the future.
Merkel will meet with Biden at the White House on Thursday for a wide-ranging discussion that will touch on the global response to the pandemic and the proposed waiver of IP rights, a senior administration official said on Monday.