Wednesday, 29 May, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalNobel laureate urges SA rejects WTO compromise on patent rights

Nobel laureate urges SA rejects WTO compromise on patent rights

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has joined a call from activists and researchers for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reject the proposed compromise that emerged last week at World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks on a waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 technologies.

BusinessLIVE reports that Stiglitz said it would not do enough to make cheap generic vaccines and treatments available to developing countries. Leaked documents detailed a compromise being discussed by the US, EU, SA and India that could potentially end the almost 18-month deadlock on the IP waiver. In October 2020, SA and India proposed the WTO waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments for the duration of the pandemic, to enable large scale manufacturing of generics. The compromise proposes that only the patents on COVID-19 vaccines be waived, for up to five years. It excludes technology transfer and trade secrets and will not apply to countries – such as China – that export more than 10% of global COVID-19 vaccine supplies.

The proposed compromise was “misleading and ineffectual” and would prevent meaningful access to vital COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments, said Stiglitz, with Indian economist Jayati Ghosh and Oxfam Africa director Peter Kamaling in an open letter distributed by the Health Justice Initiative. “(It) represents the EU’s belligerent blockade of any actual waiver of IP barriers and the US insistence that the IP waiver it supports be limited to vaccines,” they said.

More than 100 countries initially backed the original plan put forward by SA and India. SA academics and researchers wrote to Ramaphosa last week, saying the leaked draft text was “defective both in its fundamentals and in its details”. “Although it partially, but imperfectly, addresses some patent-related issues, it fails in all regards to address the problem of technology transfer,” wrote the researchers, led by UCT’s public health expert Leslie London.


BusinessLIVE article – Joseph Stiglitz urges SA to reject compromise on Covid-19 patent waiver (Restricted access)


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Moderna set for clash with WHO over COVID patent applications in SA


Mkhize urges global coalition to call for vaccine patents’ waiver


WHO chief calls for Trips waiver and praises SA’s vaccine development project



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