Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU is sceptical of the proposed intellectual property rights waiver for COVID-19 products including vaccines, an official of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) indicates.
Those sceptical about the proposal “continued to express doubts about the convenience of starting negotiations and asked for more time”, the official noted, as reported by RFI on Tuesday.
In addition to the EU, WTO members holding reservations about of the plan include Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and the UK.
The US, China, New Zealand and the Ukraine support the proposal to waive IP rights, but WTO agreements require the support of all member countries.
India and South Africa proposed the waiver move in October last year and have since come forward with a revised proposal. More than 60 of the WTO’s 164 member countries support the latest proposal.
Broader waiver proposed
According to the plan, the waiver would apply to vaccines, diagnostics, treatments, protective equipment and medical devices as well as their components.
The waiver would last at least three years, after which the WTO General Council should decide whether to extend it.
To date, close to two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, about 0.3% of which were in the 29 poorest countries that account for approximately 9% of the world’s population.
Advocates of the waiver stress that the move would help increase production in developing nations. Critics are sceptical, warning that such an approach could setback future research and have other effects.
According to the official, WTO member countries are neither agreed that the waiver can help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic nor the extent to which it would, were it to be of use.
The US remains open to continuing talks on all plans to increase production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, while China insists talks should proceed to the next stage.The EU focus is on the importance of increasing production and lifting export restrictions.