[Ip-health] WTO race for Director-General: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addresses questions on trade, IP, and future COVID-19 vaccines

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jul 16 02:45:00 PDT 2020



During Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s press conference on 15 July 2020, a
reporter from Xinhua News Agency asked a specific question on COVID-19.

The reporter asked: “Madame, You are chair of the board of Gavi, and
special envoy of the African Union in the fight against COVID-19. So, if
elected, what’s your plan as Director-General to ensure smooth global trade
especially for essential goods such as vaccines?”

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala provided the following response.

“Thank you very much. That’s a very important question. I am indeed
privileged to be Chair of Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance and also to be
working as envoy to the [ACT] tools accelerator where there is an attempt
by the international community to ensure that finding the tools for solving
COVID-19 are there and it’s the international community with WHO, with
Gavi, with CEPI and with other organizations that have come together. So
part of this tools accelerator, the raison d’être, is to ensure that when
vaccines do become available, that poorer countries will not be left
standing in the queue but that there will be allocation criteria that will
mean that poor countries, rich countries get access to the vaccines at the
same time.

If I became WTO DG, I would have a very strong collaboration with the tools
accelerator which has WHO, CEPI, Gavi, to work towards this, to make sure
that there are no barriers, no restrictions on the availability of these
vaccines whilst respecting the intellectual property rights of those who
have manufactured the vaccines. The world should be able to come to the
point where the medicines, where mechanisms are put in place to make those
vaccines available and the world trading system should be a facilitator of
that and not an impediment. So I would combine the role of WTO DG with the
experience I’ve had at Gavi to ensure this because I think it’s critical
that everyone has access to live-saving vaccines.”

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

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