At least nine developed countries have delayed a waiver of patents and other intellectual property rights on Covid-19 medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies.
The waiver, proposed at a meeting of the World Trade Organization on November 20, will set out the provisions of the body’s trade-related aspects of intellectual property (TRIPS) to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The waiver was sponsored by Kenya, India and South Africa and supported by 99 countries. Opposing countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union.
The waiver of intellectual property will enable all countries to grant or enforce patents and other IPs related to Covid-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies until global herd immunity is achieved.
Currently, developing and poor countries do not have access to affordable new therapies and vaccines for Covid-19.
In their joint proposal, South Africa, India, Kenya and Eswatini, and now together with Mozambique and Pakistan, called for a decision of the General Council on the implementation of TRIPS provisions on copyright, industrial designs, patents and suspend protection of unknown information in connection with its suspension. “for the prevention, restriction or treatment of Covid-19” for a temporary period.
While the US has argued that pharmaceutical companies take enormous risks and should be supported by strong IPR protection, Japan has said that proponents of the waiver do not explain the basis of their proposal and why the current IP framework does not work , and pointed out that companies and researchers are working to ensure access to effective medical products.
Amb. Johnson Weru, Secretary General of the State for Trade and Enterprise Development in Kenya, said: “We have given our guidance on the potential access for Covid-19 vaccines and the impact it will have on our people if the drugs are made freely available. word. “
“Cases of potential infringements of intellectual property have emerged early in the pandemic, revealing the complex legal implications of producing copies of life-saving medical products or parts thereof as well as the impact on access,” Kenya said, citing the example of the Gilead patent for Remdesivir and said Gilead blocked access to generic alternatives until 2031.
Although the World Health Organization has removed the middle of the list used in Covid-19 treatment, Kenya allows it.
South Africa has said that many of the therapeutic agents for monoclonal antibodies such as tocilizumab, bevacizumab and even the Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment, which has just received a license for emergency consent; poses major problems due to inequality in access, unless concrete steps are taken to address barriers to intellectual property.
Kenya also claimed that the countries proposing the waiver shared digital sequencing information and relevant public health information to enable researchers to track coronavirus evolution and support research and development, and questioned them. why countries offering these projects would now oppose a waiver.
‘The current monopoly-based model of research and development puts the fruits of a joint effort into a single enterprise, allowing it to dominate the market, dictate supply and demand high prices that governments and taxpayers recoup costs of the medical product. Kenya said.
“Co-sponsors do not believe that such an outcome is in the interest of a solidarity – based collaborative approach to addressing Covid-19.”
“The TRIPS flexibility provides limited public health policy space; it is never designed to address a health crisis of this magnitude,” India said.
“Countries must use all available tools to ensure that Covid-19 medical products are accessible and affordable to all who need them,” said Sidney Wong, executive director of MSF’s Access campaign.
“All Covid-19 health instruments and technologies must be true global public goods, free from the barriers posed by patents and other intellectual property. We call on all governments to urgently support this groundbreaking proposal that puts human lives above corporate profits. “critical moment for global health,” said MSF.
Referring to Pfizer and Modern vaccines, the EU said that “these results show that the intellectual property system is a framework that provides incentives and provides the basis for stakeholders to invest and innovate.”
The Chairman of the TRIPS Board, Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter of South Africa, announced a formal TRIPS Board meeting of 10 December to adopt a report on it and which will be submitted to the next General Board meeting, which will be held on 16 and December 17 is planned.