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
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.