Economy

TRIPS waiver needed not just for vaccines but also for therapeutics, diagnostics, says Goyal

Amiti Sen | Updated on: Jun 13, 2022
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal meets his counterpart from South Africa Ebrahim Patel, on the sidelines of the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal meets his counterpart from South Africa Ebrahim Patel, on the sidelines of the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, in Geneva, Switzerland. | Photo Credit: -

Effort to differentiate amongst developing countries in the draft ministerial text at WTO MC 12 not acceptable

India has said that a temporary waiver of TRIPS provisions as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic is needed not just for vaccines but also for therapeutics and diagnostics for a comprehensive ‘test and treat’ strategy and the super profits of a few pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to prevail over global good.

“If we are only providing (waiver) for vaccines, it is too late in the day for that. The pandemic has run its initial course. Currently vaccines are not in short supply,” Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said, adding that it was therapeutics and diagnostics that could pave the way for meeting future needs of tackling the crisis. 

Goyal was speaking at the thematic session on ‘Response to Pandemic and TRIPS Waiver’ at the on-going WTO Ministerial Conference (MC) in Geneva on Monday.

He also said that in the current formulation of the draft ministerial text it seemed that while referring to ‘some developing countries’ there was an attempt to rephrase the original intent of the Marrakesh Agreement. “And it may appear to be an effort to differentiate amongst developing countries which I think is best omitted at this stage,” he said.

Temporary waiver

The Minister pointed out that the initial document on temporary waiver on TRIPS presented by India and South Africa on October 2, 2020, was different from the draft decision presented to the Ministerial Conference. The draft mentions a waiver only for vaccines and also puts in place several conditions for users.

“We must redouble efforts and commence negotiations on therapeutics and diagnostics as well since pandemic is far from over…While vaccines where for preventive needs we need therapeutics and diagnostics to achieve comprehensive `test and treat’ strategy,” Goyal said.

It has been indicated that many countries do not favour supporting what has been asked (including therapeutics and diagnostics), the Minister said.  “Currently, vaccines are not in short supply. And if you are not able to look at the near term future and the requirements of that period, then it is pretty much clear that you don’t want to focus on the concerns for humanity, for the hundreds and thousands of lives lost, and for millions affected. It is sad that the super profits of a few pharma companies prevail over global good,” he added.

The  WTO response to the Covid-19 pandemic and preparedness for future pandemics, which was being negotiated as a separate declaration, has an inextricable link with satisfactory resolution of TRIPS document, Goyal said. “One can’t go through without the other. And both should be finalised together….We cannot have a pandemic response which does not deliver an effective and workable outcome on TRIPs,” he said.

Published on June 13, 2022
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