NEW DELHI: India and South Africa have asked for a waiver of certain intellectual property (IP) norms for treatment, prevention, and containment of Covid-19.
Both countries want easy access to diagnostics, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines for local production without the need for prolonged intellectual property negotiations.
This ambitious proposal, if accepted by World Trade Organisation members, would facilitate deep technology transfer for effective Covid-19-related vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostic tests as the joint submission covers patents, copyright, industrial designs, and undisclosed information including know-how and trade secrets.
In their submission to the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the two countries have said that “given this present context of global emergency, it is important for WTO members to work together to ensure that intellectual property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and protection of undisclosed information do not create barriers to the timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines or to scaling-up of research, development, manufacturing, and supply of medical products essential to combat Covid-19”.
The two countries also said that all WTO Members are struggling to contain the spread of the pandemic and provide health care services to those affected.
“Many developed, developing and least developed countries have declared a national emergency with the aim to curb the growing outbreak, and as advised by the WHO implemented social distancing measures with significant consequences for society and the economy,” read the submission.
“Notably, developing countries and least developed countries are especially disproportionately impacted.”
The next session of the TRIPS Council is set to be organised later this month and it remains to be seen how other WTO members including Canada, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA respond.