Consensus on Covid vaccine IP waiver
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The IP waiver would apply only to countries that exported less than 10 per cent of global vaccine doses in 2021.
- 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.
- 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.