MSF comments on the reported draft text of the TRIPS Waiver negotiation
In mid-March 2022, a draft text was leaked for the ongoing proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a temporary waiver of patents and other intellectual property (IP) on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests. Unfortunately, the current draft text does not amount to the waiver, as proposed, and should not be equated to the original TRIPS waiver proposal put forth by South Africa and India, and supported by over 100 countries.
With the restriction of the scope of technologies to vaccines only, and the overall focus on patents and compulsory licensing, the leaked draft text appears to reflect the proposals made by the EU and US and not those contained in the original proposal. It does not provide a meaningful solution to IP monopolies on access to COVID-19 medical tools, to boost global production and supply to tackle access inequities.
The current text requires substantive revision and improvement, to avoid setting a harmful precedent for future public health challenges. We urge WTO members not to adopt the current text and to consider the following actions while negotiating an outcome at WTO:
- Insist that clarifications and interpretations of TRIPS provisions be applicable for all WTO members; for all diseases and technologies without time limits; and for all kinds of compulsory licenses granted beyond the scope of the draft text ‘Decision’.
- Address IP barriers to access to therapeutics and diagnostics, not vaccines only.
- Clarify the eligibility criteria for inclusion of all countries, including all developing countries with manufacturing and supply capacities, to achieve the intended objective of facilitating increased production and supply; and clarify situations for importing countries that may need to remove possible patent barriers when importing.
- Reject requirements of countries to list all patents when issuing a compulsory license and other excessive reporting requirements.
- Engage in a meaningful negotiation for an effective solution of removing IP challenges as suggested in the original waiver proposal.
*An additional technical note provides a focused analysis on the problems with the patent listing requirement contained in the leaked draft text.
The graphic below annotates all the problematic areas of the proposed text in detail.