Science has delivered, will the WTO deliver? TRIPS waiver proposal from India, South Africa, and other members

Asha Bajaj
5 min readDec 30, 2020

#WTO; #IntellectualPropertyRights; #TRIPS; #IMF; #Covid19Pandemic;

India, South Africa, and eight other countries have been calling the World Trade Organization (WTO) with a proposal to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents, and other Intellectual Property (IP) rights under the organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, known as TRIPS, for a limited period of time to ensure Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) to facilitate rapid scaling- up of manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, said Brajendra Navnit, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to WTO.

WTO. Image credit: weform.org

The proposal has been backed by various international organizations, multilateral agencies, and global civil society and supported by a large proportion of the WTO membership, while only a few members have raised concerns about the proposal.​

Unprecedented times call for unorthodox measures. We saw this in the efficacy of strict lockdowns for a limited period, as a policy intervention, in curtailing the spread of the pandemic.

“…However, the risk of worse growth outcomes than projected remains sizable. If the virus resurges, progress on treatments and vaccines is slower than anticipated, or countries’ access to them remains unequal, economic activity could be lower than expected, with renewed social distancing and tighter lockdowns”, ​International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its October 2020 edition of World Economic Outlook states.

But the situation appears to be grimmer than predicted, said Navnit as already there has been a loss of 7 percent of economic output from the baseline scenario projected in 2019 which translates to a loss of more than USD 6 trillion of global GDP.

Navnit added that even a 1 percent improvement in global GDP from the baseline scenario will add more than USD 800 billion in global output.

Timely and affordable access to the emergence of successful vaccines and treatments will be a big confidence booster for demand revival in the economy but the fundamental question is whether there will be enough Covid-19 vaccines to go around.

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Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women