The World Trade Organization is being asked to conclude a stalled negotiation which began in the autumn of 2020 to waive or modify some of its rules on intellectual property for the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a huge difference between how the negotiation began and how it might end.
The WTO’s agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property – known as the TRIPS – sets out norms that governments implement through their own laws and institutions.
In the autumn of 2020, India and South Africa proposed that the WTO temporarily waive certain of its rules as they related to the pandemic. That original proposal would have put a waiver in place for Covid-19 vaccines, medicines, testing equipment and other supplies ‘until widespread vaccination is in place globally, and most of the world’s population has developed immunity’.