1 February 2021
The Doha Declaration states that countries can and should interpret the Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in a manner that protects public health, including ensuring access to essential medicines for all. So why are the representatives of the USA, UK, EU, Australian Japan, Brasil and Canadian governments reluctant to support the waiver?
South Africa, India and others in the global south submitted a proposal to the WTO in October 2020 in order to ensure prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 becomes a concrete reality globally.
Tuesday 2nd of February 2021, in support of this proposal, 10 groups of health activists will deliver letters to 15 embassies in Pretoria and Cape Town demanding that their governments support the waiver request or at the very least stop obstructing the adoption of the proposed waiver in the WTO. The delivery of the letters will be accompanied by 10 small flash mobs in front of each embassy in the course of the morning.
This action is supported by over 200 civil society organisations in South Africa. Similar actions will take place in India in the course of next week.
If the waiver would be granted it would allow countries who are WTO members to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other IP related to all COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other technologies, including masks and ventilators, for the duration of the pandemic. Countries can choose to not invoke the waiver, it is not mandatory.
The waiver is important, because together with state licensing measures, it offers an expedited, open and automatic global solution which could save lives by increasing access to COVID-19 medical products which would in turn assist countries to better respond to the pandemic. The waiver will help to lower vaccine production costs, remove regulatory barriers aimed at limiting competition amongst vaccine producers, and encourage greater information sharing, thereby encouraging innovation aimed at developing more effective COVID-19 tools.
The waiver must be supported. It will give all governments a fighting chance to produce and procure COVID-19 vaccines for their populations now, when it is most needed. It is a concrete act of solidarity, under life or death circumstances.
Without the waiver, many states will be forced to rely on the mercy of pharmaceutical companies, or the charity of more wealthy and powerful states who may or may not decide to share “their” surplus vaccines with them. We cannot allow this to happen and encourage everyone to engage their governments to support the COVID-19 TRIPS waiver request and mobilise for a #PeoplesVaccine now.
For further information please contact: Candice Sehoma on