Public Health Experts Call for a #TrueTRIPSWaiver
On March 15, 2022, a leaked text emerged on the waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property rights for COVID-19 products. This new proposal is dramatically different from — and worse than — the original TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) Waiver proposed in October 2020.
This proposed text:
- Does not cover COVID tests or treatments. The proposal only covers vaccines, at a stage in the pandemic when world leaders acknowledge that testing and treatments are critically important. If this proposal is agreed, tests and treatments are ostensibly to be considered six months later, but the WTO is notorious for missing deadlines.
- Does not cover all of the intellectual property barriers to COVID medicine access. The proposal covers only patents, and not the other categories of intellectual property addressed in the original waiver proposal: copyright, trade secrets, undisclosed data and industrial design. Many key COVID-19 vaccines and medicines are protected by thorny thickets of intertwined IP protection, not just a patent or two.
- Excludes entire countries. It applies only to “developing countries” that “exported <10%” of the world’s vaccines in 2021 (so excludes China and Brazil). It may also inadvertently exclude least developed countries.
- Could impose new barriers to production of generics. Supposed “clarifications” of existing rules could create new hoops for countries to jump through, for example an obligation to identify all patents covered by a waiver application, when that is not required under current WTO rules.
The worst elements of this proposal can be traced directly to the United States and European Union. But it’s not a done deal yet.
Civil Society Reactions From the U.S. and Around the World
- Public Citizen: Statement: Leaked Proposal on COVID Medicines Waiver Helps No One But Floundering WTO
- Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières): Compromise neglects COVID-19 treatments and diagnostics and fails to address intellectual property barriers beyond patents, but there’s still time to get it right
- Oxfam: Media reaction in response to reports of a compromise on the vaccines TRIPS waiver
- Indian civil society says Indian government must “resist the unreasonable demands of the EU and U.S.”
- Public Services International: Too little, too late: We need a permanent TRIPS waiver mechanism
- Human Rights Watch: More Effort Needed for Meaningful Outcome at WTO on Covid-19
- Health GAP: The Quad TRIPS Waiver Text is not a Compromise; It is an Abomination
- People’s Vaccine Alliance: It took too long, but the EU has finally admitted that IP rules & pharma monopolies are a barrier to vaccinating the world, a tribute to millions of campaigners who have demanded a #PeoplesVaccine. However, this proposal is not enough.
- Knowledge Ecology International (KEI): QUAD’s tentative agreement on TRIPS and COVID 19
- Trade Justice: Statement: COVID IP Waiver Proposal Is Too Weak to Help End the Pandemic
- ReThink Trade: Leaked Draft WTO COVID Text Would Not Improve Access to Vaccines, Altogether Excludes Treatments and Tests
- The Left Political Party in the European Union
- Salud por Derecho: La suspensión de patentes de las vacunas covid: un acuerdo descafeinado
- Just Treatment: THE NEW TRIPS WAIVER PROPOSAL WON’T END DEADLY COVID MONOPOLIES
- Feminists for a People’s Vaccine: WTO has to go back to the negotiating table. Improve the text!
- Australian civil society says “Leaked proposal on WTO COVID-19 monopolies a small step but more needed for equitable global access to vaccines and treatments”
Academics and In-Depth Analyses
- South African academics urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to reject leaked proposal
- Professor Brook Baker: The Quad TRIPS Waiver Text is not a Compromise; It is an Abomination
- Professor Jane Kelsey: Why a leaked WTO ‘solution’ for a COVID patent waiver is unworkable and won’t make enough difference for developing countries
- Professor Sean Flynn: Statement of PIJIP Director Sean Flynn on the Leaked COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver Proposal
- KEI’s Jamie Love: The proposed WTO agreement on intellectual property and COVID 19 vaccines should not require that non-voluntary use of patents list all patents covered
- KEI’s Jamie Love: The Quad WTO proposal on COVID 19 and TRIPS proposal is tied for the 5th best option for exports
- Rethink Trade: Draft WTO COVID Text Leaked 3/15 Wouldn’t Improve Vaccine Access and Altogether Excludes Treatments and Tests: Beware the Ides of March Indeed!
- Read the March 15, 2022 leaked text
- In These Times: New “Compromise” on IP Waiver for Covid Vaccines Is Worse Than No Deal, Activists Say
- Geneva Health Files: The Lowest Common Denominator: The Quad Text on the TRIPS Waiver
- Verfassungsblog: Not Much of a Waiver.The Leaked Draft Text of the TRIPS Waiver Compromise”
- The Guardian: Global powers inch closer to agreement to waive Covid vaccine patents