Leaked WTO Proposal Is Not the COVID-19 Medicines Waiver We Need

On March 15, 2022, Politico reported that a supposed “compromise” had emerged from the “quad” negotiations among the United States, European Union, India and South Africa around a waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property rights for COVID-19 products.

This new proposal is dramatically different from — and worse than — the original TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) Waiver proposed in October 2020.

THE PROPOSED TEXT

COVERS ONLY VACCINES

If this proposal is agreed, tests and treatments are ostensibly to be decided on six months later, but the WTO is notorious for missing deadlines.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must cover all COVD-19 medical technologies, including tests and treatments.

COVERS ONLY PATENTS

and not other categories of intellectual property addressed in the original waiver proposal: copyright, trade secrets, undisclosed data and industrial design.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must waive all IP protections for COVID-19 medical technologies, not just patents.

EXCLUDES ENTIRE COUNTRIES

It applies only to “developing countries” that “exported <10%” of the world’s vaccines in 2021. It may also inadvertently exclude least developed countries.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must be universal in scope, allowing all qualified producers to ramp up production of vaccines, tests and treatments.

COULD IMPOSE NEW BARRIES

to the production of generic medicines. Supposed “clarifications” of existing rules could create new hoops for countries to jump through.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must make it easier for qualified producers to access needed technologies and information.

TAKE ACTION

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

COVERS ONLY VACCINES

If this proposal is agreed, tests and treatments are ostensibly to be decided on six months later, but the WTO is notorious for missing deadlines.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must cover all COVD-19 medical technologies, including tests and treatments.

COVERS ONLY PATENTS

and not other categories of intellectual property addressed in the original waiver proposal: copyright, trade secrets, undisclosed data and industrial design.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must waive all IP protections for COVID-19 medical technologies, not just patents.

EXCLUDES ENTIRE COUNTRIES

It applies only to “developing countries” that “exported <10%” of the world’s vaccines in 2021. It may also inadvertently exclude least developed countries.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must be universal in scope, allowing all qualified producers to ramp up production of vaccines, tests and treatments.

COULD IMPOSE NEW BARRIES

to the production of generic medicines. Supposed “clarifications” of existing rules could create new hoops for countries to jump through.

A TRUE TRIPS WAIVER

must make it easier for qualified producers to access needed technologies and information.