U.K. Politicians, WTO Delegations From South Africa, India Call For Changes To IP Rules To Improve Equitable Access To COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccines

Devex: COVID-19 vaccine access: U.K. politicians call for IP waiver
“Politicians in the United Kingdom are calling on the government to demand changes to intellectual property rules to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments around the world. … [T]o ensure equality of access for such treatments, [Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat chief whip,] said, ‘One important step the U.K. government could take is working through international institutions to help encourage reform of the patent system given the exceptional circumstances of this pandemic.’ She highlighted World Trade Organization rules that allow governments to override monopolies for public health purposes, as already done by Germany, Australia, and Canada. The U.K. should also engage with South African and Indian proposals for intellectual property monopolies to be waived on COVID-19 products, Chamberlain added. … Her sentiments were echoed by Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee, a group of politicians that scrutinizes U.K. development policy…” (Worley, 11/6).

PRI: Could lifting patents speed up access to life-saving COVID-19 drugs?
“Mustaqeem De Gama brought a proposal sponsored by South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization last month that he thinks will speed up access to life-saving, COVID-19 drugs. De Gama, a South African representative to the WTO, wants the body to waive all patents and intellectual property rights for drugs, technologies and vaccines developed to fight the coronavirus for the duration of the pandemic. It would temporarily alter the system, overseen by the WTO, that governs how drug discoveries and scientific knowledge are controlled and shared worldwide. This hasn’t been done before — but the world can’t afford to maintain the status quo right now, De Gama said…” (Gordon, 11/6).

Additional coverage of various aspects of coronavirus vaccine and therapeutics research, as well as patient treatment, is available from Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Health Policy Watch, New York Times, STAT, and Wall Street Journal.

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