Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders, MSF) has hailed South Africa‘s call to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow countries the choice not to enforce patents on COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies as a “landmark move”.
The Times reports that South Africa together with India recently appealed to the WTO to allow countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other intellectual property on tools and medicines while the world fights the pandemic. This would ensure that all people have access to much-needed COVID-19 medical products.
“A global pandemic is no time for business as usual, and there is no place for patents or corporate profiteering as long as the world is faced with the threat of COVID-19,” said the organisation’s Leena Menghaney.
“With this bold action, India and South Africa have shown that governments want to be back in the driver’s seat when it comes to ensuring all people can have access to needed COVID-19 medical products, medicines and vaccines, so that more lives can be saved.”
WTO member countries can seek a waiver from certain obligations in WTO treaties under exceptional circumstances.
The report says if members agree on the waiver, countries can choose not to grant or enforce IP (patents, industrial designs, copyright and trade secrets) related to all COVID-19 medical products and technologies.
Full report in The Times