[Ip-health] WHA 73. United States of America Explanation of Position “COVID-19 Response” Resolution

James Love james.love at keionline.org
Tue May 19 06:59:10 PDT 2020


The US government kindly provided a copy of its written statement to the
World Health Assembly on the “COVID-19 Response” Resolution

* The United States dissociates from operative paragraphs 7.5 and 9.4.
* The United States must also disassociate from operative paragraphs 4, 8.2
and 9.8

"We are concerned that a misinterpretation of international trade
obligations in non WTO multilateral fora may negatively affect countries’
abilities to incentivize new drug development and expand access to
medicines. We would also like to clarify our understanding of the reference
in 8.2 to “existing mechanisms for voluntary pooling … of patents.” The
United States interprets this reference as limited to voluntary mechanisms
existing before the COVID-19 pandemic, not new or proposed “patent pooling”
mechanisms created in response to the pandemic. It is critical that any
such voluntary mechanisms as applied to COVID-19 related technologies be
narrowly tailored in scope and duration to the medical needs of the current
crisis, and that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as
the UN agency with technical expertise on intellectual property issues,
play an appropriate role in their operation and evolution"


------------------------------------------

WHA 73. United States of America Explanation of Position “COVID-19
Response” Resolution

Written Statement

The United States thanks the European Union and the other co-sponsors for
their leadership in preparing the COVID-19 Response resolution for adoption
at the virtual 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA). That we are meeting in
virtual session, at a time when more than 300,000 people have lost their
lives and the global economy has been deeply affected, is a testament to
the need to come together in response to this pandemic. This resolution
makes an important contribution to that global response, immediately
calling for whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to fighting
the pandemic with the best available evidence, and by urging the
international community to come together around all aspects of the response.

Most importantly, the terms of this resolution take the first critical
steps necessary to ensure that, when we face the next pandemic, we will
have a World Health Organization (WHO) and an international system capable
of responding effectively and decisively to save lives and protect the
vulnerable. We applaud the call for an impartial, independent, and
comprehensive review of the WHO’s response, to be undertaken in
consultation with Member States, and we urge that work to begin now. This
will help ensure we have a complete and transparent understanding of the
source of the virus, timeline of events, early discussions, and the
decisionmaking process for the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We
must reform the WHO and supporting entities to be fully capable of
fulfilling their core and crucial mission moving forward. We further
appreciate the mandate given by the resolution to the WHO to investigate
the origins of the virus, and we are confident that through this knowledge,
researchers and medical practitioners around the world will be empowered in
the pursuit of vaccines and other countermeasures.

Finally, we wholeheartedly endorse the call in the resolution for all
Member States to provide the WHO with timely, accurate, and
sufficiently-detailed public health information related to the COVID-19
pandemic, as required by the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).
We stand ready to work with all partners to implement this resolution. If
we are to fully realize the promise contained in the IHRs of a safer world
for everyone, changes must be made within the WHO to hold Member State
accountable to address and reduce risks that threaten public health.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts at working toward consensus
language in all areas of this resolution, we regret that the United States
must disassociate itself from a few paragraphs due to the following issues:

The United States dissociates from operative paragraphs 7.5 and 9.4. The
United States strongly supports women reaching the highest attainable
outcomes for health, life, dignity, and well-being throughout their lives.
We champion access to high-quality health care for women and girls across
the lifespan. However, we do not accept references to “sexual and
reproductive health,” or other language that suggests or explicitly states
that access to abortion is included in the provision of population and
individual level health services. The United States believes in legal
protections for the unborn, and rejects any interpretation of international
human rights (such as General Comment 36 on the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights) to require any State Party to provide access to
abortion. As President Trump has stated, “Americans will never tire of
defending innocent life.” Each nation has the sovereign right to implement
related programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies,
free from external pressure. There is no international right to abortion,
nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate
abortion. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on
Population and Development Programme of Action and the 1995 Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action, we do not recognize abortion as a
method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our global health
assistance.

The United States must also disassociate from operative paragraphs 4, 8.2
and 9.8 because the language in these operative paragraphs does not
adequately capture all of the carefully negotiated, and balanced, language
in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property (TRIPS) and the Doha Declaration of 2001 and instead
presents an unbalanced and incomplete picture of that language at a time
where all actors need to come together to produce vaccines and other
critical health products. The United States recognizes the importance of
access to affordable, safe, high-quality, and effective health products and
the critical role that intellectual property plays in incentivizing the
development of new and improved health products. However, as currently
drafted, paragraphs 4, 8.2 and 9.8 send the wrong message to innovators who
will be essential to the solutions the whole world needs.

We are concerned that a misinterpretation of international trade
obligations in non WTO multilateral fora may negatively affect countries’
abilities to incentivize new drug development and expand access to
medicines. We would also like to clarify our understanding of the reference
in 8.2 to “existing mechanisms for voluntary pooling … of patents.” The
United States interprets this reference as limited to voluntary mechanisms
existing before the COVID-19 pandemic, not new or proposed “patent pooling”
mechanisms created in response to the pandemic. It is critical that any
such voluntary mechanisms as applied to COVID-19 related technologies be
narrowly tailored in scope and duration to the medical needs of the current
crisis, and that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as
the UN agency with technical expertise on intellectual property issues,
play an appropriate role in their operation and evolution.

The United States is leading global efforts for the development of
vaccines, for therapies and treatments for COVID-19, including providing
significant funding and leading other initiatives to accelerate innovation
in this space, for example the ACTIV Partnership recently unveiled by the
United States National Institutes of Health. We applaud other global
efforts as well and are committed to supporting a collaborative approach to
ensuring that all efforts support one another and that we are truly
accelerating progress toward a vaccine.

Going forward, given the need for innovation incentives in the development
of new health products, the U.S. Government encourages member states to
engage with innovators to find mutually-acceptable solutions that achieve
increased access to affordable, safe, effective, and high-quality COVID-19
health products. By taking an unbalanced and incomplete approach to the
issue of access to medicines and TRIPS, this resolution misses an
opportunity to galvanize the world, beyond bureaucracy and UN bodies,
toward the critical goal of accelerating research, development,
distribution and access to affordable, safe, quality and effective
COVID-19-related products. We remain committed to working with all partners
toward that goal.

-- 
James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
U.S. Mobile +1.202.361.3040
U.S. office phone +1.202.332.2670
http://www.keionline.org <http://www.keionline.org/donate.html>
twitter.com/jamie_love


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