India and South Africa had moved the WTO on the issue in October last year

If US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai’s engagements over the past few days are an indication, Washington D.C. has intensified its efforts in backing India and South Africa for waiving the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) on Covid-19 vaccines.

“The United States is a world leader, and that comes with big responsibilities. Saving lives in a moment of global humanitarian crisis is what motivates me and this administration to support the sharing of vaccine production IPs. We care, because that's the human thing to do,” Tai said in a tweet on Saturday.

On the same day (Saturday), Tai held a meeting with Director General of World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to discuss vaccine production and the Trips Wavier.

“Had a good meeting today with @DrTedros, Director General of the @WHO to discuss vaccines production, the Trips waiver, and hear more about the steps the organization is taking to increase pandemic preparedness,” her tweet said.

Earlier on Friday, the US Trade Representative held meetings with Indian and South African Trade Ministers Piyush Goel and Ebrahim Patel, respectively.

Ambassador Tai had also sought support for the proposal from European Commission (EC) executive vice president (EVP) Valdis Dombrovskis.

Reportedly, in conversation with the Indian and South African Trade Ministers, Tai also asked them to speed up the submission of the waiver proposal.

The US had on May 6 announced its support for waiving Intellectual Property (IP) protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic and said it would actively participate in World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations to make that happen.

In October last year, India and South Africa had moved the WTO to allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other intellectual property (IP) related to COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies for the duration of the pandemic, until global herd immunity is achieved.