New Delhi (NVI): India tonight welcomed the US announcement of support for Intellectual Property Right (IPR) waiver to Covid-related vaccine and hoped it would lead to consensus at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) where a proposal of New Delhi is pending for several months.
External Affairs Ministry drew the attention to the proposal mooted by India and South Africa at the WTO in October last year for temporary suspension of IPR norms and said this issue was taken up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden during their telephonic talk on April 26.
“We welcome the statement of the US government of 5th May announcing their support for this initiative. We are hopeful that with a consensus based approach, the waiver can be approved quickly at the WTO. The waiver is an important step for enabling rapid scaling up of manufacture and timely availability of affordable Covid 19 vaccines and essential medical products,” it said in a statement.
The statement came in response to the announcement by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai that the Biden-Harris Administration supports waiving the intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.
“We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) needed to make that happen. Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved,” Tai added.
“The Administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible. As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the Administration will continue to ramp up its efforts – working with the private sector and all possible partners – to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines,” the US Trade Representative said.
The External Affairs Ministry statement said, “In view of the global health crisis and the need to combat the Covid 19 pandemic, India and South Africa proposed in WTO on 2nd Oct, 2020 a relaxation in the norms of the agreement on TRIPS, to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines for developing countries.”
It added, “As a result of proactive outreach by India and other like-minded countries, the proposal has received the support of more than 120 countries.”
Referring to the telephonic conversation between Modi and Biden on April 26, it said the “Prime Minister informed him (Biden) about India’s initiative at the WTO which was aimed at the benefit of humanity.”