ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility

Impasse in the World Trade Organization

The patent waiver procedure at the World Trade Organization needs to be fast-tracked. The global community must not be constrained by the interests of private industry and saving lives is what matters.


The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) newly appointed director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on 9 March 2021 asked COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for assistance to increase the production in developing countries. This was to tackle the vaccine supply shortage in many lower-income nations. She is a former chair of the Vaccine Alliance GAVI (formerly Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), that has immunised 760 million children worldwide since its inception in 2000. And she knows very well how important the COVID-19 vaccine is for saving lives in the low-income countries.

But there is a big contradiction bet­ween what the director general said, and what is happening inside the WTO on this issue. Deve­loping countries are strongly pleading for a vote in the WTO General Council on a proposal to waiver intellectual property rights (IPR) for vaccine prod­uction and use. But the developed cou­n­tries have locked the issue in Trade Rel­a­ted Aspects of Intellectual Property Rig­hts (TRIPS) council, which is just a step before it reaches the general council.

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Updated On : 7th Jul, 2021
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