Petition To Centre, Health News, ET HealthWorld

CHENNAI: The intellectual property rights attorney association wants the Centre to press the World Trade Organisation to temporarily waive patent rights for Covid-related products.

It has written to the Centre to approach other developing nations and form a coalition at the WTO meeting on January 10 to seek exemption for vaccines, diagnostic kits, medical masks and other personal protective equipment.

In the petition to the Union ministry of commerce and industries, association president Sanjai Gandhi pointed out India and South Africa had jointly forwarded a proposal to the WTO in October 2020 seeking a temporary waiver to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and drugs to curb the spread of Covid-19 in developing countries. The move received the support of over 120 countries. The United States announced its support for the proposal. However, this was restricted to vaccines only.

“With the COVID cases starting to peak again, it is imperative that all member-states support the proposal to cover not just vaccines but also diagnostics, therapeutics and other health technologies,” the petition said.

A waiver of patent rights would provide countries with the policy space to address IP barriers to increase collaboration in research, development, manufacturing and supply of Covid-related technologies.

The petition noted that a small group of high-income countries such as UK and Switzerland are still opposed to such a waiver. Citing statements from leaders of countries such as South Africa, Italy, and Mexico in support of the waiver, the petition said developing countries should make a collective application for patent waiver, instead of India and South Africa individually proposing the waiver.

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