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SA stands firm in its demand vaccine production waiver amid objection from pharma cos at WTO conference

Negotiators from the sponsoring countries have presented text on waivers and flexibilities to the TRIPS Agreement and a draft Ministerial Declaration in response to COVID-19

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South Africa remains steadfast in its demands for a waiver that will enable developing countries to manufacture vaccines, Ebrahim Patel, Trade Industry and Competition Minister said as talks entered the fifth day at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), amid objections from pharma companies and some developed countries.

The discussions at the ongoing 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva were triggered by a joint proposal by South Africa and India in October 2020 for a time-bound and specific waiver of certain provisions of the Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS) administered by the WTO, to allow manufacturers in developing countries produce vaccines without the patent holder’s consent.

Negotiators from the sponsoring countries have presented text on waivers and flexibilities to the TRIPS Agreement and a draft Ministerial Declaration in response to COVID-19. While most countries have acknowledged the need for a comprehensive WTO response to the pandemic with the TRIPS waiver at its core, some developed countries have objected to the terms of the proposed agreement.

A number of pharma companies have also reportedly objected to the text.

The minister called for support for the proposal by South Africa and India. “This is the moment for all countries to show leadership. Human lives must be prioritised,” he added.

(Edits by EP News Bureau)

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