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Union Minister Piyush Goyal at Thematic Session on Response to Pandemic & TRIPS Waiver
Union Minister Piyush Goyal at Thematic Session on Response to Pandemic & TRIPS Waiver

At WTO, Piyush Goyal slams nations opposing TRIPS waiver, seeks negotiations on therapeutics, diagnostics

ANI | Updated: Jun 13, 2022 22:25 IST

Geneva [Switzerland], June 13 (ANI): Highlighting the importance of the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday slammed the countries standing in the way of the key Indian proposal, besides urging the need to start negotiations on therapeutics and diagnostics to mitigate the impact of ongoing pandemic.
The twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference is underway in Geneva, Switzerland. The key areas of discussions and negotiations this year's conference include WTO's response to the pandemic, Fisheries subsidies negotiations, Agriculture issues including Public Stockholding for Food security and WTO Reforms.
Speaking at the WTO's Thematic Session on Response to Pandemic and TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Waiver, he said many countries do not favour supporting the Indian proposal and that the super-profits of a few pharmaceutical companies are prevailing "over global good."
"While vaccines were for preventive needs, we need to ramp up the need for Therapeutics and Diagnostics to achieve a comprehensive test and treat strategy," said Goyal. "It has been indicated that many countries do not favour supporting what has been asked...It is sad that the super-profits of a few pharmaceutical companies prevail over global good," he added.
For India, the Goyal said a response to the COVID-19 pandemic would not be complete without a TRIPS waiver.
"For the past year and a half, South Africa and India and 63 co-sponsors of the waiver proposal had urged the WTO membership to adopt the TRIPS waiver proposal for ramping up the production of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to comprehensively combat the COVID-19 pandemic by enhancing supply and ensuring equitable and affordable access," he said.
"It is of paramount importance for us (India) to commence negotiations on therapeutics and diagnostics. We cannot have a pandemic response which does not deliver an effective and workable outcome on TRIPS nor can we can agree to any pre-shipment notification requirements," he added.

Though the negotiations reached a deadlock in the TRIPS Council, India participated in an informal quadrilateral discussion, initiated by the WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, which included the US and European Union.
During the "intense and difficult" talks, Goyal said all participants gave a "maximalist comprised position": for a draft that will be "somewhat acceptable" to the general membership.
"For us, the text from these discussions does not reflect, what we as a co-sponsor of the TRIPS proposal waiver had envisaged. ...I was very hopeful that the remaining concerns with this text would have been resolved and reconciled. For India, a consensus-based outcome is of paramount importance," he said.
The minister noted how vaccines are no more in scarcity with sufficient and affordable stocks available across the world. "...In fact, vaccines are now getting wasted due to expiry dates..."
As the Covid-19 pandemic has devastating consequences across the globe, health experts have demanded that Covid-19 vaccines should be a universal common good.
India and South Africa sponsored initiative is a measure that would expand access to lifesaving vaccines and other health products.
However, the EU has opposed this proposal at the WTO to temporarily waive certain intellectual property rules under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). (ANI)