[Ip-health] Ellen 't Hoen in The Wire - COVID-19 Crisis and WTO: Why India and South Africa’s Proposal on Intellectual Property is Important

Kaitlin Mara kaitlinmara at medicineslawandpolicy.net
Tue Oct 13 00:44:37 PDT 2020

Hi colleagues,

This article may be of interest to you, related to the TRIPS Council this


On October 2, India and South Africa sent a proposal to the World Trade
Organisation (WTO), asking that it allow countries to suspend the
protection of certain kinds of intellectual property (IP) related to the
prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. The two countries
propose this waiver to last until widespread COVID-19 vaccination is in
place globally, and when the world’s population has developed immunity to
the virus.

The concern is that the development of and equitable access to the tools –
such as vaccines and treatments – needed to fight the pandemic could be
limited by patents and other IP barriers. The WTO body that makes decisions
on intellectual property, the TRIPS Council, will meet October 15-16 to
discuss this issue.

The linked article describes why this measure is particularly necessary in
light of the global pandemic, especially as the vaccines and biologic
medicines being developed for COVID-19 are complex products and more
difficult to replicate than small molecules if technology transfer does not
take place. The scale-up of vaccines and other biologics require more than
the transfer of patents alone. It involves the transfer of technology,
data, know-how and cell-lines.


More information about the Ip-health mailing list