We get completely half-baked deal on proposed TRIPS waiver: Goyal

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Expressing concern over the way some developed countries are fussing over the patent waiver proposal to deal with the Covid pandemic under the WTO, India said on Tuesday that countries supporting the proposal are getting a completely “half-baked” agreement that will not allow them to manufacture vaccines.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement related to the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid. In May 2021, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors including India, South Africa and Indonesia.

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into force in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright , industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets. Waiver of these rights provisions will help promote the manufacture of vaccines, therapeutics and other equipment as part of efforts to contain COVID-19.

Some developed countries like the UK and Switzerland opposed the proposal. According to some rich countries, the TRIPS Agreement has built-in flexibilities such as Compulsory License (LC) and Voluntary License to deal with the situation. However, India’s position is that these flexibilities are not sufficient to deal with the situation and that issuing a CL is a lengthy process.

Addressing a meeting with the co-sponsors of the proposed TRIPS waiver, Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said the way some countries are finicky only reflects their insincerity.

”My own feeling is that there is not a single factory. Nobody will ever reach the agreement that we are finally trying to negotiate and which could be approved,” he added.

“Fighting over little commas, periods, a word here or there seems to suggest this will go on for five years,” Goyal said, adding that he was following the current language, even if someone wants to try to take advantage of this agreement will be ”frustrated”.

He said the mention of five years would not help because it takes time to find an investor, raise funds, obtain equipment and set up a vaccine manufacturing plant.

”Today in India we have vaccines that are expiring, we have vaccine capacity that is idling and so investors will not be easy to find for this…our hope and desire was that this would be the beginning and in six months they will decide on the therapy and the diagnosis,” he added.

Speaking of his bilateral meetings with some developed countries that oppose the proposal, he said they had almost clearly hinted and indicated that intellectual property rights are extremely important, but on diagnostics and therapeutics, “we We’re not going to back down.”

“So my own feeling is that what we’re getting is completely half-baked and that won’t allow us to make vaccines. They have no intention of allowing therapy and diagnosis and if they try to say that we are the cause of its collapse, I think we should unanimously speak to the world and tell them no, ideally we want a holistic solution including therapy and diagnosis,” said the minister.

The minister called on countries to advocate for a collective and holistic decision and not be fooled into accepting a “sub-optimal stage 1, knowing full well that stage 2 will never happen”.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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