Explainer: COVID-19 vaccine patents dominate global trade talks

By Reuters9 days ago

2/2 Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The word COVID-19 is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration 2/2

By Philip Blenkinsop

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - World Trade Organization members will assess on Wednesday signs of progress in talks on a proposal by South Africa and India to waive patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines in order to boost supply to developing countries.

They want to ease rules of the WTO's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement. WTO decisions are based on consensus, so all 164 members need to agree.

Ten meetings in seven months have failed to produce a breakthrough, with 60 proposal sponsors from emerging economies, backed by a chorus of campaign groups, Nobel laureates and former world leaders, pitted against richer developed countries, such as Switzerland, the United States and in the European Union, where many pharmaceutical companies are based.

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