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India says its stand on TRIPS waiver for COVID health products

India will continue to push for inclusion of temporary waiver of Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions for Covid- related medical products in the WTO response package being worked out as its domestic vaccine and pharmaceutical industry is on board, a source close to the development has said.

“We have consulted our domestic industry, especially companies that may temporarily lose their patent benefits once the TRIPS waiver is agreed upon, and they are on board. Although our situation has changed since the TRIPS waiver proposal was made in October 2020 and we have our own Covid-19 vaccines and stocks, we will continue to push for a waiver as we represent all developing nations and LDCs that need easy access to cheap medical products to tackle the pandemic,” the source said.

India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Bharat Bio-tech got the WHO nod earlier this week, widening India’s options of production and exports. Other Indian companies that are into manufacturing of vaccines include Pune-based Gennova Biopharma and Hyderabad-based Biological-E.

India is insisting that the WTO response package that is being worked out to meet Covid-19 challenges must necessarily include provisions on temporary waiver of TRIPS obligations for Covid-19 health products including vaccines, as mentioned in the proposal by India and South Africa that has been co-sponsored by 64 WTO members.

“Voluntary licences and compulsory licenses have proved to be inadequate in meeting the challenges of providing affordable healthcare for Covid-19. Temporary waiver of TRIPS for Covid-related products is needed to be granted at the WTO MC12,” the source said.

India will also not support the call for reduction in tariffs on goods and a check on export restrictions that some countries are pushing as part of the Covid-19 response package. “We can’t agree on not placing export restrictions on essential medical items if there is a shortage in our country and our people are dying. Neither can we agree on tariff reduction on items that may ultimately have no direct link to Covid-19 and have various end-uses,” the source said. The Hindu BusinessLine

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