Patel calls for waiver of COVID vaccine IP rights

The country is anxiously waiting for news of a resumption of the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and eager for preparations for phase two of the programme to get under way on May 17th. #eNCA​ Courtesy #DStv403


JOHANNESBURG - Trade, Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel says they've made a proposal to the World Trade Organization to relax IP rights in order to avoid vaccine nationalism.

READ: Intellectual property and COVID-19 medicines: why a WTO waiver may not be enough

The government is asking pharmaceuticals to waive intellectual property rights for vaccines and health tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patel said, "most countries across the world are covered by a global agreement in the World Trade Organisation that regulates intellectual property and there are some areas of copyright. It's called the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, in short Trips, the agreement requires countries may not use something that is patented without the authority or permission of the owner of the property however the agreement itself realises that there are unusual times, times when countries may need to do what is called compulsory licensing, or even when those terms themselves, may be waived."

"In this pandemic, vaccines as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, and other essential provisions are covered by Trips so a firm in SA or India or Brazil may not utilise their intellectual knowledge without the agreement of the patent holder."

"What the waiver would do, for a limited time, it would exempt certain kinds of products from the Trips agreement and enable countries and firms to produce those on scale, that's the heart of the proposal."


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