GS Paper - 3 (IPR)

The United States, European Union, India and South Africa have reached a tentative agreement on key elements of a long-sought limited intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines. The tentative agreement among the four World Trade Organization members still needs formal approvals from the parties before it can be considered official.

What

  1. It would apply only to patents for Covid-19 vaccines, which would be much more limited in scope than a broad proposed WTO IP waiver backed by the United States.
  2. The tentative agreement closely mirrors the EU's compulsory licensing approach and does not include Covid-19 treatments or tests, and contained limitations that would likely exclude China from any waiver.
  3. The text of the agreement was being circulated in Brussels, Washington, Johannesburg and New Delhi, with decisions on the length of the waivers still to be resolved.
  4. The IP waiver would apply only to countries that exported less than 10 per cent of global vaccine doses in 2021.
  5. The tentative deal comes after months of negotiations over how to accelerate Covid-19 vaccine production in developing countries, where vaccination rates have lagged far behind wealthy countries.
  6. In talks brokered by WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the United States, EU, India and South Africa broke away from negotiations with a broader group of countries late last year amid stiff opposition from countries with big pharmaceuticals sectors, including Switzerland and Britain.