WTO must not “make a bad situation even worse” with vaccine IP deal

WTO must not “make a bad situation even worse” with vaccine IP deal

Release date: 10 June 2022

Ahead of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Twelfth Ministerial Conference, Max Lawson, co-chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:

“The text under negotiation at the WTO is not the TRIPS waiver that more than a hundred developing country governments have been fighting for, backed by a global movement of millions. Rather than remove barriers to producing vaccines, this text would add even more, setting a dangerous precedent for access to medicines.

“It would be unthinkable for the WTO to do nothing in a pandemic, but entirely unconscionable to agree a deal that would make a bad situation even worse. We are deeply concerned that rich nations are negotiating to protect the interests of pharmaceutical corporations, enabled by a WTO intent on saving its own reputation, whatever the cost to public health.

“The mood in negotiations is darkening. Developing countries have reportedly been sidelined, while rich countries have been allowed to use the amendment process to try to limit the scope and impact of any agreement. 

“There is still a narrow window to deliver something meaningful at this ministerial conference. But that will require serious concessions from wealthy, vaccinated WTO members like the UK, EU, and US. They must remove any new barriers from the text and deliver a genuine waiver of all intellectual property rules covering COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.. 

“If developing countries do not see these improvements and refuse to agree to a bad deal, they will have our support.

“Unless the WTO can agree to a genuine waiver, the grotesque inequity that we have seen with the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines will only repeat itself. WTO member states, including the EU, have accepted that intellectual property rules are a barrier to accessing COVID-19 products. Now they must finally do something about it.”


Notes to editors

Experts, including a negotiator from the Doha round of WTO talks, have warned that the current text could reverse the Doha declaration precedent that  “the TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health”: https://peoplesmedicines.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/TRIPS-waiver-letter-to-WTO-delegates-signed-by-Ruth-Celso-Jorge.pdf

People’s Vaccine Alliance representatives will be in Geneva for the WTO Ministerial Conference.

Media contact

Joe Karp-Sawey, Senior Media Advisor, People’s Vaccine Alliance

[email protected]