The flexibility of IP rights must be discussed at the WTO
The proposal to waive the patents related to vaccines against Covid-19, which has been discussed internationally, must be considered only in the context of negotiations led within the WTO (World Health Organization), pointed out James Fitzgerald, the director of Health Systems and Services at PAHO (Pan American Health Organization), during the webinar “Covax Consortium: technology transfer and the Covid-19 pandemic” held on May 25th, organized by the International Law of Intellectual Property and Patents Study Committees of ABPI. “Our advice is that countries follow the negotiations within the WTO and the possibilities of the TRIPS agreement”, he said.
For Fitzgerald, whether through voluntary or compulsory licenses, the key is that populations need access to vaccines. He noted that many of the technologies developed for Covid-19 vaccines have been funded by public resources from countries. “Today, the great debate is about how these intellectual property negotiations can materialize in access to vaccines for the general population”, said the Director of PAHO. “The government that finances vaccines must have access to them”.
According to Fitzgerald, if Brazil wishes, it can obtain more vaccine doses from the Covax Consortium, which is currently reduced to a minimum quota of 10% of the population. “The problem is the low availability of vaccines worldwide. So far, only 3% of the population in Latin America is covered by Covax”.
The webinar also had the participation of co-coordinators Ana Cláudia Mamede Carneiro, Aline Ferreira de Carvalho da Silva, Roberta Arantes and Ana Cristina Müller.
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