India has welcomed the US support for a relaxation in the norms of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement to ensure quick and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines and medicines for developing countries.
"We are hopeful that with a consensus based approach, the waiver can be approved quickly at the WTO (World Trade Organisation). The waiver is an important step for enabling rapid scaling up of manufacture and timely availability of affordable Covid-19 vaccines and essential medical products," a commerce ministry statement said.
In view of the global health crisis and the need to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, India and South Africa in 2020 had proposed in WTO a relaxation in the norms of the agreement on TRIPS. The proposal has received the support of over 120 countries.
During his recent phone call on April 26 with US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told him about India's initiative at the WTO, which was aimed at the benefit of humanity.
The United States on Thursday announced the support for waiving intellectual property (IP) protection for Covid-19 vaccines. The decision is a breakthrough in India and South Africa's attempts to get World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries to agree to such a waiver to fight the pandemic equitably.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai stated the Biden-Harris administration has decided to announce the support. "This is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines," Tai stated.
After the US support, European Union will be the only major trade bloc that continues to oppose the move at WTO. Tai has indicated the US administration will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the WTO needed to make that happen. "Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved," the statement said.