After days of deliberations at the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, the participant countries on Friday agreed on a partial intellectual property rights waiver for the production of Covid-19 vaccines for the next five years.
The agreement, however, left out diagnostics and therapeutics from the ambit of the waiver, leaving health advocacy groups and several countries unhappy.
The agreement on a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS waiver, would help manufacturers in underdeveloped and developing countries access trade secrets on how to produce a Covid-19 vaccine from local regulatory authorities.
An intellectual property rights waiver relaxes restrictions on patents, industrial designs and copyright.
KM Gopakumar, a member of non-profit advocacy organisation Third World Network, was among those who sat through ministerial meetings on Thursday as the countries tried to reach an agreement.
He told Scroll.in said that the decision was important as it could ensure safety and availability of vaccines. “It is not all that we wanted,” he said. “But it will help countries get access to much-needed booster shots.”
He explained that under an earlier TRIPS agreement, a vaccine manufacturer could not export the bulk of its vaccines to another country, and the majority of the production had to be retained for the home country.