After getting US support on the waiver of patents on vaccines, South Africa, India, and other developing countries are likely to demand TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver for Covid-19 drugs and medical tools too.
According to an exclusive report by Times of India, with US Trade Representative indicating American support only for talks on patent flexibility for vaccines at the WTO, the scope of the proposed waiver could turn out to be the next sticking point. In October, India and South Africa had submitted a joint proposal, which had just outlined the broad areas of TRIPS waiver. The revised draft will provide the scope, in terms of coverage as well as the duration, which could be longer than originally expected.
Patents restrict access to products and also prevent other scientists from improving on patented inventions, thus discouraging innovation and widespread adoption.
The monopoly granted to Big Pharma has enabled them to resist any kind of international attempt to share scientific data and technology, making it impossible for other manufacturers across the world to enter into production.
This likely explains why currently only 43 per cent of global production capacity is being utilised.
The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some of the world economic body’s intellectual property protections, which could allow drugmakers across the globe access to the closely guarded trade secrets of how the viable vaccines have been made.
Waiving patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines is fiercely opposed by Big Pharma because they say it would set a precedent that could threaten future innovations, and insist the move would not speed up production.