global consensus

South Africa, India, EU, US reach compromise on Covid-19 vaccine patent

By Jaysim Hanspal

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Posted on March 17, 2022 17:44

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visits mRNA vaccine hub in Cape Town
An employee works with samples during a visit by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir to a WHO-backed mRNA vaccine hub, in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Shelley Christians

The United States, European Union, India and South Africa have reached a consensus on key elements of a long-sought intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines.

Any agreement must be accepted by the WTO’s 164 member countries in order to be adopted. If one country rejects the proposal, it could mean the end of the waiver.

If approved, the agreement would mean countries accounting for less than 10% of global exports of Covid-19 shots in 2021 could permit domestic manufacturers to produce vaccines without patent-holder consent for three or five years.

That would exclude China but clear India, which banned vaccine exports for much of 2021 after a wave that severely impacted the population.

The agreement would also cover Covid-19 vaccines, and after six months this would be revisited to potentially cover tests and therapeutics. This would benefit less economically developed countries that have struggled to gain access to an adequate supply of vaccinations.

Too little too late?

The agreement, first suggested by India and South Africa 18 months ago

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