BJP Associate Vows to Defeat West-Backed WTO Plan Excluding India, China From Vaccine Patent Waiver

© REUTERS / Denis BalibouseA logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2020.
A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.02.2022
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) will hold a virtual meeting on 22 February to discuss a 15-month-old proposal seeking specific provisions of the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to be temporarily waived. India and South Africa proposed a patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an influential economic advocacy group founded by Dattopant Bapurao Thengadi, and closely aligned with India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has asked the government to remain firm against the EU, the US, and the WTO Secretariat on the TRIPS waiver for vaccine manufacturing.
Globally, TRIPS forces countries to honour intellectual property rights.
Suspecting that the WTO may limit the geographical scope of the patent waiver and thereby exclude India and China, Professor Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, has urged developing countries to support India in maintaining its bargaining power at the WTO.

"It is understood that the US and EU have, in their own ways, favoured limiting such a waiver. Some suggestions include applying the waiver only to African countries, or another possibility is to exclude India and China," Mahajan said on Friday.

The professor underlined that India would reject any exclusion plan and defeat any diversionary proposals which would only weaken the fight against the pandemic.
India and South Africa submitted a proposal to the WTO in October 2020, seeking an agreement allowing any vaccine manufacturer to produce COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and medical equipment without getting patent rights.
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An agreement on the proposal has so far been unobtainable because of opposition from the US and the EU which say that the move could "affect the quality of shots".
The Indian and South African proposal has received the support of many WTO member countries, including China and Russia.

"The WTO Secretariat is notorious for its support of US and EU positions and consequently misleading and inaccurate legal analyses and technical input," Mahajan added.

The US and European countries at present produce their vaccines and donate or sell them to developing and less-developed countries.
However, it was found that western countries were dumping vaccines which had passed their expiry date on African and Asian countries.
Africa has received about 572 million COVID-19 vaccines and administered 353 million doses. Only 10 percent of the continent's population is fully vaccinated.
On Friday, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia were selected as the first recipients of vaccine technology from the WHO to produce the vaccine on the African continent.

"No other event like the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that reliance on a few companies to supply global public goods is limiting and dangerous," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Developing countries have continually called for an equitable vaccine access to defeat the pandemic.
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