Geneva, 11 March 2021 – Discussions on the landmark intellectual property (IP) waiver proposed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) closed yesterday evening, although governments continued to meet on other topics at WTO today. As opposing countries continued to stall the process, there was no movement towards formal text-based negotiations. These continued delays on the waiver negotiations are very disappointing for global public health one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and five months since the waiver was first proposed.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the next round of informal meetings will take place in mid-April.
Ahead of the talks this week at the WTO, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) issued a press release and MSF’s International President sent an open letter urging the small number of governments that continue to block the waiver on monopolies during the pandemic to immediately reverse their stonewalling and allow formal negotiations at the WTO to start.
Yuanqiong Hu, Senior Legal and Policy Advisor, MSF Access Campaign:
“We are once again disappointed that a small group of countries keeps stalling the process and denying the need to urgently move forward with this landmark waiver on intellectual property during the pandemic. It is unacceptable that as the world marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, a small group of countries continues to delay this important process that could give the world a better chance to ensure global access to COVID-19 medical tools. What we need today are concrete actions, not more discussions and consultations.
Some countries that oppose the monopoly waiver continue to propose voluntary measures, but these governments know that this will not be sufficient and will not result in the change we need to see.”