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US supports Covid vaccine patent waiver plan, India welcomes move

The Joe Biden-led United States administration has come out in support of waiving the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday.

The decision comes at a time when rich countries have been accused of hoarding vaccines. The move could help poor nations ton initiate their vaccination programmes, as more drug makers will be able to manufacture the vaccine. This decision may lead to the speeding of inoculation drives worldwide.

Biden had been under intense pressure to waive protections for vaccine manufacturers, especially amid criticism that rich nations were hoarding shots.

The death counts in India, hit a new daily record with 3,780 deaths on Wednesday. India on Wednesday reported 3,82,315 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 2,06,65,148.

What has said by the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai?

The US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Wednesday announced support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, offering hope to poor nations that have struggled to access the life-saving doses. In a statement, she said this is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.

Tai said that the administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.

Tai had earlier held meetings with CEOs of several vaccine manufacturing companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, on the TRIPS waiver issue. Amid mounting pressure, the White House had earlier stated it will do whatever is best to end the pandemic.

How India reacted?

India has appreciated the Biden administration’s decision to support the proposal moved by India and South Africa.

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said, India appreciate the US administration’s announcement of its support for waiver of IPR for Covid-19 vaccines.

For the past several weeks, Sandhu, along with the diplomats from South Africa, had been meeting US lawmakers and officials regarding the proposal.

Why does India want the waiver?

If India succeeds in getting the proposed waiver of the agreement on TRIPS, it will reduce the cost of vaccines substantially and enable free flow of medicines, easy technology transfer across the world.

India and South Africa had approached the global trade body in October, calling on it to waive parts of the agreement on TRIPS.

Why rich countries are against waiver?

Wealthy countries like the US and Britain as well as the European Union were against the proposal to waive TRIPS. They said that a ban would stifle innovation at pharmaceutical companies by robbing them of the incentive to make huge investments in research and development.

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These countries argued that this would be especially counterproductive during the current pandemic which needs the drugmakers to remain on their toes to deal with a mutating virus.

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