China support global IPR waiver
China, which is actively pursuing vaccine diplomacy, said that it is "supportive" of India and South Africa's proposal for a temporary waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for coronavirus vaccines, asserting that Beijing will back all actions that are conducive to the developing countries' fight against the pandemic.
- India and South Africa called for TRIPS waiver of certain intellectual property provisions of Covid-19 vaccines in a communication to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October last year so that people in developing countries get access to life-saving vaccines and therapeutics as soon as possible.
- Since then, the proposal started gathering support even in the US and the European Union.
- Early this month, WTO appealed to the member countries to quickly present and negotiate a text that could temporarily ease trade rules that protect Covid-19 vaccine technology, considering the urgency.
- China, which has given emergency approval to five domestically-made vaccines, has recently got approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its first vaccine, Sinopharm.
- China also promised to supply 10 million vaccines to COVAX, a global vaccine distribution campaign backed by the WHO.
- TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
- TRIPS allow countries to negotiate compulsory licences, a flexibility that was reaffirmed in the Doha Declaration. However, compulsory licences must be negotiated by each WTO member country and for each patent or other protection applying to each individual product.
- The move would help in scaling up the production of vaccines and other essential products to deal with the coronavirus.