The White House has called on all members of the World Trade Organization to support an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
“We … need every WTO member to step up as well and support an intellectual property waiver, and every company must act ambitiously and urgently to expand manufacturing now,” said White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.
The development comes a year after India and South Africa introduced a proposal to temporarily waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies at the WTO.
Waiving intellectual property on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies will help save lives by allowing developing countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines.
The European Union and several countries, including Switzerland, remain opposed to the proposal.
Last week, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, formal negotiations for a temporary waiver of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies as were “stuck”, negotiations are intensifying though.
Okonjo-Iweala told a Washington think tank that she believes WTO members will eventually “find a pragmatic compromise on the IP waiver” and ensure equitable access to vaccines, while at the same time preserving incentives for research and innovation.
An official from the EU described “intense talks” with South Africa on how to boost the availability of vaccines to developing countries, potentially breaking the deadlock. The WTO aims to reach an agreement on the global response to the Coronavirus-induced COVID-19 pandemic at its ministerial conference in Geneva from November 30 to December 3.