Geneva, 01 October 2021 – One year since India and South Africa put forward the “TRIPS Waiver” proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) condemned the unrelenting opposition to this landmark initiative from a small group of WTO members, including the EU, UK, Norway and Switzerland.
First introduced on 2 October 2020, the TRIPS Waiver, which now has the support of over 100 nations, would waive patents and other intellectual property (IP) rights on urgently needed COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, tests and other health tools for the duration of the pandemic and pave the way for many countries to increase production and supply of these lifesaving medical tools.
Dr Sharmila Shetty, Vaccines Medical Advisor, MSF Access Campaign
“In the one year that has passed since India and South Africa first tabled the landmark TRIPS Waiver in an effort to increase people’s access to COVID-19 medical tools, tragically over 3.6 million people have died from COVID-19.
“The world lost an entire year during which countless lives could have been saved and sustainable global access to COVID-19 medical tools equitably increased. A handful of governments have chosen to obstinately block the TRIPS Waiver from the beginning, and these are the same governments that have stockpiled vaccines and therapeutics to protect their own populations instead of sharing.
“If most of the world, including many countries where MSF works, continues to have only minimal access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, this pandemic will continue, new and more transmissible variants may develop, healthcare systems will buckle, and more people will suffer and die.
“The EU, UK, Norway and Switzerland must stop obstructing the TRIPS Waiver and support the adoption of a groundbreaking effort that could increase access to COVID-19 medical tools for everyone, everywhere.”
In addition to supporting the TRIPS Waiver proposal, MSF calls on governments to use all legal and policy tools to facilitate uninterrupted production and diversity in supply of COVID-19 medical tools, including the full use of existing TRIPS flexibilities for public health safeguarding. MSF also urges all governments with sufficient COVID-19 vaccine doses to immediately redistribute excess doses to the COVAX Facility and other regional mechanisms. MSF urges the US and German governments to pressure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to share mRNA vaccine technology and know-how with manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries, and for all governments to support the WHO COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Technology Transfer Hub with financial and political support.