At a meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Wednesday, three divergent positions emerged with another group of countries including the US and China seeking to establish a definition and list of the products that would be covered by such an extension.
A third group comprising the EU, the UK, Canada and Japan, among others, insisted on first seeing evidence that intellectual property is a barrier to their access, officials said. At present, the waiver is for Covid-19 vaccines for five years.
“A grouping of members including India, South Africa, Kenya on behalf of the ACP Group, Malaysia, Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group, Sri Lanka and Argentina stressed that the current Covid-19 IP waiver decision should be adopted without any further language or definition,” said a Geneva-based official.
The 12th Ministerial Conference decision of the WTO contains a commitment that no later than six months from the date of its adoption-June 17-members will decide on its possible extension to cover the production and supply of Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.
As per the official, the group which includes the US, China, Uruguay and Mexico has also asked for some flexibility as they are conducting domestic consultations and gathering information on the use of diagnostics and therapeutics to treat Covid-19 and other related issues such as their supply, production, demand, and distribution.
The TRIPS Council has discussed the issue four times since MC12 and three rounds of informal meetings are planned till December 6.
If the discussions do not translate into concrete textual options on November 2, a more intense consultative process is likely to be pursued.