Countries are struggling to meet the December 17 deadline, fixed at the WTO Ministerial Conference in June (MC12) this year, for extending the temporary TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) waiver to Covid-19 therapeutics and diagnostic tools as developed and developing country members are holding on to their rigid positions on the matter and no new proposals have been made, a Geneva-based trade official said.
“Ambassador Gberie of the TRIPS Council said that member countries should put in their best efforts to create a meeting ground. He said that domestic consultations on the matter need to be finalised soon. Exchanges are likely to continue in the TRIPS Council so that facts and evidences can be shared that may help to arrive at a decision on the extension,” the official told businessline.
The TRIPS Council, which met informally on November 22, will meet on December 6 and December 15, to try and get an agreement through before the December 17 deadline.
At MC12, it was decided that over the next five years members will have the right to override patents and have greater scope to take direct action to diversify production of Covid-19 vaccines through clarifications of existing flexibilities and a targeted waiver. Members also agreed that a decision on the possible extension of the waiver to cover the production and supply of Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics will be taken within the next six months.
At the informal TRIPS Council meeting on Tuesday, there was no indication of members moving towards convergence, the official said.
A group of members including India, South Africa, Maldives, Kenya on behalf of the ACP Group, Malaysia, Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group, Colombia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria continue to favour a blanket approach of extension to therapeutics and diagnostics which means that they want the waiver for vaccines to be extended as it is.
The second group of members, including Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Korea, the European Union and the UK, maintain that they need to first see evidence that IP constitutes a barrier to the access to therapeutics and diagnostics before considering the extension.
The third group, including members such as the US, China, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico, want more time for domestic discussions.