Letter to the US, the UK, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, and the European Union.
We bring to your attention the forthcoming meeting of the WTO’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights) Council on 10-11 March 2021. There, patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines and other medical products will be on the agenda.
The interest right now focuses on the proposal submitted by India and South Africa: They call for temporarily waiving patent rights on urgently needed medical products due to the exceptional circumstances of the global Covid-19 Pandemic. If this happens, and adequate technical and financial support goes along with it, vaccines could be produced all over the world and reach the poor faster than everything else, which is on the negotiating table right now.
Historically, WTO decides by consensus. However, Article IX of the WTO Agreement does not only provide for waivers in exceptional circumstances but also foresees for those situations a decision system by a three-quarter majority, if consensus cannot be found. We think that the present situation is truly exceptional and therefore justifies both waiver and a majority vote.
Proceeding like that would resolve the problem, that those countries objecting to the waiver, are largely the same nation-states that have secured most of the produced vaccines for their own populations.
Therefore, each vote counts, and therefore we want you to support the Indian and South African proposal.
Reasons for our position are given in this Factsheet.
Read the following letters to:
1. The the US President, Joseph R. Biden
2. The German government