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Rethink Trade Condemns WTO Failure to Waive IP Barriers Blocking Global Access to COVID Vaccines, Treatments, Tests

European Union, UK, Swiss Assist Pharma Corporations in Blocking Even Temporary Patent Waivers for Vaccines; U.S. Insists Text Not Apply to COVID Treatments

Governments Must Take Every Action to Save Lives Using WTO Flexibilities When Possible or Defying WTO Rules When Necessary; Pledge Ceasefire on COVID Meds Policy Trade Attacks

Washington, D.C. – The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial meeting ended without waiving intellectual property (IP) barriers that have blocked billions of peoples’ timely access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Instead of a waiver supported by more than 100 countries, a rump text written by WTO staff was railroaded through. That document combines European Union, UK and Swiss fealty to Big Pharma in not waiving any intellectual property barriers and U.S. insistence it cover only vaccines, not the COVID-19 treatments at the heart of the U.S. test and treat strategy. Lori Wallach, director of Rethink Trade at the American Economic Liberties Project, said:

“Two years, 15 million dead and 100 countries supporting a waiver, yet scandalously the WTO could not even get its intellectual property barriers out of the way so people worldwide can get the best COVID vaccines and treatments needed to save lives and ensure a more deadly variant does not emerge.

This outcome is a dangerous public health fail that threatens us with more deadly COVID variants and more economic pain, but it’s also a vulgar display of multilateralism’s demise when a few rich countries flacking for pharmaceutical corporations get an assist from a global institution’s staff to block the will of 100-plus countries united to improve access to medicines in a deadly pandemic. Rethink Trade supports the unions and civil society organizations throughout Africa, Asian, and Latin American that called on their governments to reject this text.

Going forward, efforts for global access to COVID vaccines, treatments and tests can only escalate in scope and tactics given the WTO legal mechanism designed for such emergencies has failed.

Civil society worldwide has united in a call for governments to take every action to save lives using WTO flexibilities when possible or defying WTO rules when necessary and for countries to pledge a ceasefire of not using WTO or other trade mechanisms to attack other countries’ COVID medicine access policies.

Certainly, no one engaged in the fight for global access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests is giving up or going away, because it’s not possible to do so when tens of millions of lives and livelihoods are at stake.

PLEASE DON’T MISNAME WTO MINISTERIAL COVID TRIPS DEAL IF ONE EMERGES: IT’S NOT A “VACCINE PATENT WAIVER” OR AN “IP WAIVER”

 

Text on Table Would Only Lift Some TRIPS Art. 31f Procedures for Exporting Products Made by a Subset of Nations Under Existing WTO Compulsory Licensing Rules that Have Proved Inadequate for C-19 Vaccine Production

 

 

SOUTH AFRICA/INDIA TRIPS WAIVER

CURRENT TEXT ON TABLE AT WTO MINISTERIAL

(WTO Secretariat 5/3/22 text based on EU 5/21 non-waiver counterproposal)

WAIVER OF TRIPS PATENT OBLIGATIONS

YES

NO

WAIVER OF TRIPS COPYRIGHT OBLIGATIONS

YES

NO

WAIVER OF TRIPS TRADE SECRETS/UNDISCLOSED DATA OBLIGATIONS (Technology transfer, test data)

YES

NO

WAIVER OF WTO DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM CHALLENGES OF NATIONS’ ACTIONS UNDER DEAL

YES

NO

SUSPENSION FOR SOME NATIONS OF PROCEDURES FOR EXPORTING PRODUCTS MADE UNDER COMPULSORY LICENSING ALREADY PERMITTED IN TRIPS ART. 31

NOT NECESSARY BECAUSE OBLIGATIONS ARE WAIVED

YES

For More Information, please contact Lori Wallach, Rethink Trade    lwallach@RethinkTrade.org

BACKGROUND: Yesterday, Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said of the rump text:“…what we are getting is completely half-baked and it will not allow us to make any vaccines. They have no intentions of allowing therapeutics and diagnostics…” The Mexican Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell said yesterday of the text: For almost two years, a handful of rich countries have resisted a life-saving proposal tabled by India and South Africa that could speed up global COVID-19 vaccination, making a mockery of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Now, these countries are attempting to stitch up the process in order to put the profits of big pharma over people’s lives… Ahead of these meetings, a damaging new proposal has emerged that is being pushed by the European Union and WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. This proposal would be worse than none at all.”

For all press inquiries please contact: Robyn Shapiro, rshapiro@economicliberties.us, (201) 819 2526

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External Voices

Actions Governments Can Take Now to Help Save Lives and End the Pandemic

Categories
External Voices

Governments Must Break Big Pharma-WTO Stranglehold on Access to Medicine by Taking Immediate Action to Prioritize Human Lives Over Pharmaceutical Monopolies