Biden approves support to TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines after calls of help by India and South Africa
The Indian Embassy has made a concerted effort in recent months to raise support about the need for equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in developing countries.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration endorsed the lifting of intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, joining multinational attempts to boost production in the face of questions over vaccine accessibility in developing countries.
The decision of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) being waived with respect to Covid-19 vaccinations, could hasten inoculation campaigns around the world.
President Biden was under the pressure to back the plan wherein it was proposed to withdraw some of the WTO's IP protections, potentially allowing pharmaceutical companies from all over the world access to the confidential trade information of how effective vaccines are produced. This was drafted by India and South Africa and supported by several Democrats in Congress.
US trade representative, Katherine Tai told the media, “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 called for such “extraordinary measures” in the unpredictable “extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19” where the world is getting crippled under the grasp of the deadly virus.
The White House's support would not ensure that a waiver would be granted. Changes to international intellectual property law require complete consensus, which means that the European Union must also align itself with the US to guarantee a waiver.
The Indian Embassy has made a concerted effort in recent months to raise support about the need for equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in developing countries. The embassy communicated with representatives of the House and Senate in a systematic manner. This was expressed in the letters written by US lawmakers in support of TRIPS waiver to President Biden.
Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador to US together with delegates from South Africa, had been visiting US lawmakers and officials about the waiver proposal. Sandhu expressed his gratitude to the support of US government, along with all the Senate and Congress members who extended their backing to the proposal.