Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

WTO to debate on proposal on easing Covid vaccine IPR

Two-day meeting of special panel taking up revised proposal from India, S Africa for temporary waiver

- Agencies

Envoys from World Trade Organizati­on (WTO) member nations are taking up a proposal to ease patents and other intellectu­al property protection­s for Covid-19 vaccines to help developing countries fight the pandemic, an idea backed by the Biden administra­tion but opposed in other wealthy countries with strong pharmaceut­ical industries.

On the table for a two-day meeting of a WTO panel opening on Tuesday is a revised proposal presented by India and South Africa for a temporary IPR waiver on Covid-19 vaccines. The idea has drawn support from more than 60 countries, which now include the US and China.

Some European Union member states oppose the idea, and the EU on Friday offered an alternativ­e proposal that relies on existing WTO rules.

The 27-nation bloc said those rules allow government­s to grant production licences - such as for Covid-19 vaccines or therapies - to manufactur­ers in their countries without the consent of the patent holders in times of emergency. At stake in the meeting is whether the various sides can move towards drawing up a unified text, a key procedural step that could unlock accelerate­d negotiatio­ns.

Inside observers cautioned that a major breakthrou­gh was not expected.

Even optimistic supporters feel an IP waiver could take months to finalise because of resistance from some countries.

Blinken spells out targets for distributi­on of jabs

With the US sending millions of its Covid-19 vaccines to several countries, including India, secretary of state Antony Blinken said there is a need to increase production capacity on a regional basis across the globe.

Testifying before the House foreign affairs committee on the state department’s 2022 budgetary proposals, Blinken said it is important to have three-fourths of the world vaccinated soon.

“If we stayed on the current course, before we were distributi­ng the 80 million vaccines, before we’re looking at increasing production around the world, not just in the US, we’re on track to have the world vaccinated, or at least to have 75% or so of the world vaccinated, not until 2024,” he said.

The US, he said, has 80 million vaccines that will be distribute­d. “We want to make sure that anything we send out is safe and effective. But it’s starting now and it’s going to be rolled out over the coming days and weeks between now and the end of July,” Blinken said, adding that the US has started with 25 million jabs’ distributi­on.

1mn Europeans already have EU Covid certificat­e

More than one million Europeans have received the new EU Covid-19 health certificat­e being rolled out to unlock travel within the bloc, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

EU justice commission­er Didier Reynders announced the figure to the European Parliament ahead of a vote to enshrine the document in law in time for the continent’s all-important summer tourism season.

It is expected to be passed by a big majority after agreement between MEPS and the EU’S 27 member states on the details, with the vote result known early on Wednesday.

China hosts Asean FMS, promises more support

China has pledged to provide more Covid-19 vaccines to Southeast Asian countries. In a meeting in Chongqing on Monday, state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi told counterpar­ts from the Asean nations that China has delivered 100 million anti-covid shots to those countries along with other medical material.

“China will continue to provide more vaccines as needed and carry out vaccine-related cooperatio­n in terms of research and production, procuremen­t, supervisio­n and inoculatio­n,” Wang said.

 ?? REUTERS ?? Boatmen help tourists to get on gondolas as the region of Veneto was reopened to tourists following a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictio­ns in Venice, Italy.
REUTERS Boatmen help tourists to get on gondolas as the region of Veneto was reopened to tourists following a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictio­ns in Venice, Italy.

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