Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

The EU has proposed that developing countries be allowed to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines, which will soften the defense of pharmaceutical companies’ intellectual property.

Valdis Dombrovskis, trade commissioner, who opposed a plan to reduce IP protection, has now said he can support limited exemptions.

India and South Africa push for the abolition of IP controls, so that local producers can replicate products such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer without paying their royalties.

Dombrovskis has offered a targeted waiver on mandatory licenses, which will allow governments to oblige manufacturers to hand over their formulas to create cheaper forms of their drug.

He provided little detail, but added: “This solution can facilitate the production of vaccines and other essential health products, which are key for regions such as Africa, while maintaining incentives for innovation and investment.

“The protection of patents is of cardinal importance in this regard, as it is essential for countries that want to attract investment and transfer technology to develop their own production capacity.

“We still hope to have consensus on this crucial issue in the coming days, and we will maintain a strong commitment to it.”

Trade ministers will meet next week at the World Trade Organization in Geneva with vaccines high on the agenda.

While rich countries deliver third booster injections, many in the developing world remain unvaccinated.

The US supports a full waiver of IP rights, but the EU says it will reduce the incentive for companies to spend billions on research into new medicines.

The EU move will raise hopes for a WTO agreement next week, but India has so far rejected any compromise. His joint proposal with Pretoria calls for any drug that Covid can treat to be stripped of IP protection for three years.

Dombrovskis said: “IP is just one piece in a big puzzle. Cooperation with industry and investment in production capacity play a much bigger role. ”

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