[Ip-health] 18 December 2020 - India's General Council statement on the Status Report on the Consideration by the TRIPS Council of the ‘Proposal for Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19’

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Dec 18 13:09:24 PST 2020


India’s Statement delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO at the General
Council Meeting held on 18 December, 2020 on Agenda Item No. 13B - Status
Report on the Consideration by the TRIPS Council of the ‘Proposal for
Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention,
Containment and Treatment of COVID-19’ – Statement by the Chair of the
Council for TRIPS

General Council Meeting

December 16-18, 2020


Statement by India - Delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO



Thank you Chair.

We thank the TRIPS Council Chair for the status report. We would also like
to thank the Members for a constructive debate in TRIPS Council on the
Waiver Proposal. More than half of WTO Membership has expressed support. We
also acknowledge the tremendous support from various Organisations and
multilateral agencies. Rarely has an issue being dealt within WTO, united
so many divergentgroups of society across developed, developing and Least
Developed Countries in delivering a clear message.

   1. While discovering vaccines was a test of science, making them
   accessible and affordable is going to be a test of our humanity. Now that
   we can see the silver lining in terms of emerging successful vaccines; it
   is in every Member's interest, economic or otherwise, that this pandemic is
   brought under control as early as possible by providing an equitable,
   affordable and timely access to vaccines for all. Even for economic
   argument, 1%of improvement in world GDP from baseline scenario will add
   more than US$ 800 billion in global output.

   1. During the initial stages of pandemic, we have seen nations pursue
   their health security goals. All of us witnessed the shortages of essential
   COVID-19 items, like PPE kits, gloves, sanitizers etc. at the start of the
   pandemic. But the world was able to upscale the manufacturing of these
   items by pooling resources and production capacities. At present, we need
   the same pooling of IP rights and know-how for scaling up the manufacturing
   of vaccines and treatments, which unfortunately has not been forthcoming,
   necessitating the need for waiver.

   1. Chair, we would like to emphasize that this is not a proposal only
   for India but for the global community at large. India may be having the
   required manufacturing capacity and the national legislations to cater to
   its needs. But we believe that in a global pandemic, where every country is
   affected, we need a global solution. Global community should not be
   looking inward at this juncture. Though we have repeatedly heard that no
   one is safe until everyone is safe, yet even the most optimistic scenarios
   today cannot assure access to vaccines and therapeutics for all, even by
   the end of 2021.

   1. WTO has responsibility to ensure that any of its agreement including
   TRIPS do not become a barrier to accessing vaccines, treatments, or
   technologies in the global response to COVID-19. Our Waiver Proposal is a
   targeted and proportionate response to COVID-19, as it seeks waiver for a
   limited period from four specific sections of the TRIPS Agreement. It will
   ensure that the intellectual property rights do not restrict rapid scaling
   up of manufacturing of COVID-19 products. All Members have agreed that real
   challenge now is to ramp up manufacturing capacity.

   1. Chair, we welcome the global cooperation initiatives including COVAX
   and ACT-accelerator. However, these initiatives are inadequate to meet the
   massive global needs of the 7.8 billion people of this world. None of the
   pharma companies developing the vaccines have joined WHO’s C-TAP initiative
   which encourages voluntary contribution of IP, technology and data to
   support global sharing and scale-up of manufacturing and supply of COVID-
   19 medical products.

   1. Compulsory licenses are issued on a country by country, case by case
   and product by product basis, where every jurisdiction with IPs would have
   to issue separate compulsory license, practically making collaboration
   among countries extremely onerous. While the proponents encourage the use
   of TRIPS flexibilities, the same are time-consuming and cumbersome to
   implement. Hence, their use in context of COVID-19 pandemic does not
   present a viable option.

   1. Chair, over the course of four (formal and informal) meetings of
   TRIPS Council, proponents have provided substantive answers including
   evidence based answers to the questions raised by some Members, with the
   spirit of constructive engagement. We will be interested in knowing that
   further evidences are sought.

   1. Chair, it is important to keep in mind that how the WTO Membership
   chooses to respond to this pandemic today will be remembered for years to
   come. We need to take time-bound action now and prove to the world that WTO
   can indeed deliver in times of crisis. History is being written today. It
   is up to the Members to choose which side of history they would like to be.
   We hope that all WTO Members will rise to the collective call of action and
   can achieve consensus for the Waiver that is so crucial for saving people’s

   1. Thank you, Chair


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

More information about the Ip-health mailing list