Meeting for the first time since 2017, the WTO’s highest decision-making body managed to agree on some things – including its first treaty with environmental protection as the objective.
Waiving patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines and drugs is still crucial to ensure access globally, but the waiver on the table at the June World Trade Organization meeting doesn’t do the job.
Boosters and vaccinating children mean we’re relying on two pharmaceutical companies to supply Australia’s COVID vaccines. That needs to change.
Only 14% of people in poorer countries have received one vaccine dose, but a leaked WTO ‘solution’ to waive patents fails to ensure developing countries can access life-saving vaccines and medicines.
From vaccines to treatments and even medical equipment, intellectual property rights have hampered the world’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
Listen to experts discuss the business practices of pharmaceutical companies in The Conversation Weekly podcast.
The new variant is a warning: unless we take urgent action to correct global vaccine inequities, we risk the emergence of further variants, some of which may evade vaccines.
With the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference – arguably its most important ever – happening next week, attempts to keep it ‘on life support’ may be counterproductive.
Developing nations can’t make COVID vaccines because some rich nations won’t support waiving patents. Unless Australia and others do more, the world will keep living with “grotesque” vaccination gaps.
Vaccine manufacturing doesn’t come cheap. It depends heavily on support from developed countries. It also requires much more than relaxing intellectual property rights and a desire for vaccine equity.
World leaders have called for an end to the pandemic – but the numbers don’t add up.
Waiver talks might convince companies to focus on technology transfer and training, and let go of the plan to maximise patent-based revenues.
Much remains to be resolved before the waiver is translated into increased vaccine supply.
Despite some public virtue signalling, the Canadian government is not doing all it can to improve global access to COVID-19 vaccines. Canada has yet to announce its position on the WTO patent waiver.
The US has backed a proposal to waive intellectual property relating to COVID measures – but global efforts need to go beyond vaccine patents.
Various strategies are being pursued to boost worldwide vaccine coverage.
The change in the US position signals how clearly the success of every country in fighting the pandemic depends on vaccinating the whole world.
It’s not clear whether the TRIPS agreement is what’s getting in the way of vaccine supply, and waiving intellectual property rights may stifle future innovation.
Increasing skills and the availability of raw materials would be a bigger boost for vaccine production right now.
Australia has joined a handful of countries resisting a push to relax intellectual property rules related to COVID vaccines.