global trade

WTO takes in 900,000-strong petition on COVID-19 patents

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse
WTO takes in 900,000-strong petition on COVID-19 patents

VACCINE. A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine concentrate at Guy's Hospital in central London on December 8, 2020.

Photo by Victoria Jones/Pool/AFP

'Patents should be lifted, technological knowledge shared freely and openly, and no profiteering allowed during this pandemic,' says a virtual petition submitted to the World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Wednesday, December 9, it had received a 900,000-signatory petition calling for patents to be lifted on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

The virtual petition, organized by the global citizen activism group Avaaz, was submitted ahead of the meeting of the Council for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Thursday, December 10.

WTO member states were set to continue talks on proposals to waive certain TRIPS obligations concerning the prevention, containment, or treatment of COVID-19.

“Considerable differences remain between members over this proposal,” the Geneva-based global trade body said.

The petition is addressed to all governments, WTO members, and pharmaceutical companies.

“We call on you to urgently ensure access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and equipment for everyone in the world,” it reads.

“Patents should be lifted, technological knowledge shared freely and openly, and no profiteering allowed during this pandemic.

“Governments, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies must cooperate and combine resources to ensure no one is left behind. The pandemic will not be over until it’s over everywhere.”

Laboratories and pharmaceutical firms around the world are racing to produce safe and effective vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organization’s overview of different candidate vaccines, 52 have entered human trials, 13 of which have reached final-stage mass testing.

A further 162 candidate vaccines are being developed in laboratories with a view to eventual human testing. – Rappler.com