India wants waiver of some TRIPS provisions to increase global vaccine production

Supply chains for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers must be kept "open and unbridled" as the entire world is in dire need of vaccines, India's Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal emphasized during a virtual meeting with US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai on Friday.

The meeting focused on increasing vaccine availability in an inclusive and equitable manner to combat the Global pandemic caused by Covid-19, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said after the meeting.

Both sides agreed to work towards the common resolve of increasing vaccine availability and saving lives.

In this context, the proposal by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on waiver of certain TRIPS provisions to increase global vaccine production in order to take on the challenge of vaccinating the poorest of the poor and save lives was also discussed.

Last week, Tai had announced US support for this proposal.

"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” Tai had said in the statement on May 6.

Welcoming the US decision, India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry had said, "We are hopeful that with a consensus based approach, the waiver can be approved quickly at the WTO. The waiver is an important step for enabling rapid scaling up of manufacture and timely availability of affordable Covid 19 vaccines and essential medical products".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had brought up India's initiative at the WTO during his phone call with US President Biden on April 26.

The Indian Prime Minister had also sought Australia's support on the issue during a conversation with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In October last year, India and South Africa had asked the WTO to allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other intellectual property (IP) related to all Covid-19 interventions, including therapeutics and diagnostics for the duration of the pandemic.