As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, governments are meeting to discuss a landmark proposal at the World Trade Organization for a waiver on intellectual property (IP) on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, tests, and other medical tools. The temporary waiver would apply to IP on certain COVID-19 medical tools and technologies until herd immunity is reached. Yet the United States and 16 other countries are blocking the proposal by refusing to allow formal negotiations to begin.
“The waiver proposal offers all governments opportunities to take action for better collaboration in the development, production, and supply of COVID medical tools without being restricted by private industry’s interests and actions," said Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International President Dr. Christos Christou. "Crucially, it would give governments all available tools to ensure global access." Obstruction by wealthier countries continues despite the global challenges posed by highly infectious new variants of the disease spreading in some low- and middle-income countries. The US and others "must stop stonewalling and show the leadership required to deliver on the ‘global solidarity’ they have so often declared during this pandemic," said Dr. Christou. "It’s time to champion access to medical tools for everyone, wherever they live.”