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After Covid vaccine, India seeks drug patent waiver

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GENEVA: As trade negotiators got down to working out a package, India on Monday called for talks for a TRIPS waiver on Covid therapeutics and devices after working out a plan on patent waiver for vaccines. India had originally proposed a waiver of patent and other intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines, medicines and devices but the US, the EU, the UK and Switzerland, among others, were not agreeable to the plan and limited the discussions so far only to vaccines.
“It is of immense interest to us to commence negotiations on therapeutics and diagnostics. We cannot have a pandemic response which does not deliver an effective and workable outcome on TRIPS,” commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyalsaid at the WTO ministerial meeting. Pointing to the easier availability of vaccines now, the minister said blocking some of the clauses may send a wrong message. “
If it’s only vaccines that we are looking at providing, I think it’s too late in the day for that, the pandemic has run its initial course, currently vaccines are not in short supply. And if you’re not even able to look at the near-term future and the requirements of that period, then I think it’s pretty much clear that rather than concern for humanity for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost or the millions affected, it is sad that the super profits of a few pharmaceutical companies prevail over global good,” he said. India said to reach this stage of discussion on response to the pandemic amid strong opposition from some of the developed countries has meant making several sacrifices and concessions, and trashing the draft proposal will mean that the efforts of negotiators go waste. “I hope that the flexibility that we have shown will pave the way for its acceptance and also be replicated in other tracks for a successful 12th ministerial conference,” Goyal said. He also said that given the principles of WTO, there should not be any attempt to treat developing countries differently.



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