Geneva Governments should stop temporarily abandoning some of the global intellectual property rules that will help ensure global access to the COVID 19 vaccine, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of the World Trade Organization in Geneva reported. He said this before an important WTO meeting. December 10, 2020.
If approved, the waiver proposal would allow more governments to meet their obligations to respect the right to life and health. Demand has increased since the introduction of the Covid 19 vaccine in the UK and could expand to other countries in the near future.
At the WTO meeting, the governments of India and South Africa will discuss a proposal to temporarily abandon some provisions of the trade agreement of the Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS). The proposal would facilitate technology transfer so that Covid-19 medical devices, including vaccines, can be produced quickly and cheaply by manufacturers around the world. Higher-income countries have already made arrangements to buy up the vast majority of the world’s potential vaccine supply by 2021. Therefore, this step would help improve access for people in lower-income countries.
“The proposal from India and South Africa is designed to help governments cope with the ongoing emergency global health crisis,” said Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Deputy Executive Director of Advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “Governments should immediately accept this proposal so that they can make life-saving health products, including vaccines, more accessible and accessible to all.”
Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Pakistan joined India and South Africa to co-sponsor the waiver offer. This offer has been welcomed or supported by 100 countries, mostly low- or middle-income countries. But a few high-income countries and their trading partners opposed it. Includes Brazil, European Union, Canada, the USA, Japan, and the UK.zz
Some of these governments argue that the existing flexibility of global intellectual property rules is sufficient to allow compulsory licenses in low- and middle-income countries. However, past practice has shown that these tools are difficult to use and require greater flexibility to meet the scale of global challenges posed by Covid-19.
Tamarin Nelson, Amnesty International Health Rights Advisor, said: “Covid-19 can only be ended if the government recognizes its human rights obligations and ensures that people in need of life-saving vaccines are not left behind. “Accepting the TRIPS exemption is an important way to show that the state is fully committed to doing everything necessary immediately to protect the health rights of billions of people, regardless of where they live.”
Governments have an obligation to ensure that all countries share the benefits of scientific research and do not interfere with the ability of other countries to meet their obligations under the rights to health and life. This includes ensuring access to medical products and treatments needed to respond to Covid-19, including vaccines.
All countries should support the exemption to allow universal and fair access to these life-saving measures, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. All vaccine developers, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Modern, and Oxford / AstraZeneca, must support and participate in the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 technology access group to facilitate intellectual property and technical knowledge sharing.
A group of United Nations human rights experts recently issued a joint statement on the proposed repeal, highlighting that the current TRIPS framework “may have a negative impact on the prices and availability of medicines”. . They reminded governments that intellectual property rights should not be a barrier to their international human rights obligations in order to share the benefits of extensive scientific research and advance their human rights obligations.
The WTO meeting comes amid several promising developments regarding Covid-19 vaccine candidates. On December 3, the UK issued emergency approval for the vaccine candidate Pfizer / Biotech. The Company has already shipped most of its cans to a handful of rich countries that could afford to have them pre-ordered. Modern, which has also submitted its vaccine to regulators for approval, has also given most of its doses to rich countries but has also announced that it will not enforce its Covid-19-related patents against those who make vaccines to fight the pandemic.
“Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented the devastating impact of the pandemic on human rights and called for global cooperation in response. All governments have an obligation to protect the rights to life and health and to ensure that the benefits of research are available as widely as possible to protect the lives, health, and livelihoods of the people. This includes extraterritorial obligations to other states. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has also stated that this includes ensuring that international trade agreements “do not adversely affect the right to health”.
An October 2020 report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said: “There is substantial evidence that low- and middle-income countries have largely lost access to Covid-19-related products. Despite efforts to facilitate access to Covid-19 supplies, trade statistics show that only a small fraction of the additional global production of Covid-19-related supplies has reached low-income countries”.
Moreover, shortages of testing reagents and therapeutic agents in some parts of the world have been linked to the Company’s licensing practices. At the start of the pandemic, lawyers for the first patent holder warned volunteers in Italy who were manufacturing 3D-printed valves for fans that they could face legal action if they continued to manufacture without a license.
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