The TRIPS waiver will temporarily remove intellectual property (IP) barriers, allowing scale up of critical COVID-19 medicines, vaccines and other supplies. COVID-19 has already killed more than 3.5 million people across the globe and there are stark inequities between nations in access to COVID-19 medical tools.
One month ago, the US signalled its support for the waiver in a ground-breaking move. Australia’s position so far has been ambiguous: the government has made statements that it ‘does not oppose’ the waiver but it remains one of a small number of countries that is stalling progress.
If adopted, the waiver would allow countries to develop policies to address IP barriers to increase collaboration in research and development, manufacturing, scale-up, and supply of COVID-19 medical products. Waiving monopolies would help level the playing field in this pandemic and ensure access to critical COVID-19 medical tools for everyone who needs them, regardless of where they live.
“In the last few months, we all helplessly witnessed how healthcare workers in countries like India, Peru and Brazil struggled to provide care for people with COVID-19,” said Dr Maria Guevara, MSF's International Medical Secretary.
“Their healthcare systems were on the verge of collapsing and it was very challenging to provide any supportive therapies to critically ill COVID-19 patients in hospitals, as the oxygen concentrators, ventilators and medicines remain in short supply. In addition to vaccines, the world urgently needs access to newer therapeutics and diagnostics to reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths in this pandemic. Governments must do everything in their power to make sure that every country has the best chance to save as many lives as possible throughout this pandemic.”