Technical brief |

India and South Africa proposal for WTO waiver from IP protections for COVID-19-related medical technologies

Photo by Sophia Apostolia

[Last updated 18 November 2020]

In a landmark move, India and South Africa on 2 October 2020 asked the World Trade Organization (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.

This briefing document includes:

  • A Q&A to provide further details related to this important development.
  • An overview of the impact of IP barriers on access to therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics.
  • Three case studies examining IP barriers in the context of COVID-19.
  • Examples of Article IX waivers that have been granted with respect to provisions under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) Agreement in the past.

In today’s global emergency, MSF calls on all WTO members to support this waiver request. As an automatic and expedited solution to address patents and other IP barriers at the international level, the waiver is an important opportunity for all governments to unite and stand up for public health, global solidarity and equitable access.

Read MSF Access Campaign’s press release calling on governments to support this waiver at the WTO.