“We are in favor of the exemption within the WTO and we support the goals that the advocates want to achieve, namely better access, more production capacity and more incentives,” Tai told Bloomberg.
President Joe Biden’s government will now want to persuade other members of the WTO to support the proposal too, she added. A breakthrough will take time. Members of the WTO, the international arbitrator for trade, can only make decisions unanimously.
“As for the time it will take for the WTO to make a difference, it literally depends on what the members can collectively deliver,” explained Tai. “I honestly admit that this is a process that will not be easy.”
India and South Africa are two major drivers of the proposal to temporarily lift the protection of the invention of corona vaccines. Both countries are facing a sharp increase in the number of corona infections, with the humanitarian situation deteriorating daily, particularly in India. What is frightening is that the Asian country is the world’s largest manufacturer of generic medicines and, with the Serum Institute of India, is home to one of the largest producers of vaccines.
Previously, the US rejected proposals to release the patents. But among members of the US Congress, the call for the sharing of scientific knowledge is growing.
The European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Brazil and Norway were also against the plan. But according to Tai, so much is now at stake that the right to protect one’s own inventions must give way. Incidentally, India and South Africa have indicated on Wednesday that they will change their proposal here and there so that there will be broader approval.
Many pharmaceutical companies are strongly opposed to the proposal. If they earn less from their vaccines by disclosing protected knowledge, they also fear that they will have less money to be able to innovate. In addition, they think the measure is ineffective. Few countries would have the capacity to actually produce more vaccines if they were allowed to do so, the industry argues.
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