As the World Trade Organization (WTO) TRIPS Council meets today, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is again calling on those opposed to the landmark TRIPS waiver to support the temporary removal of intellectual property (IP) rights on COVID-19 medical tools.
To end the pandemic, we need to make effective vaccines, treatments and therapeutics widely available through increased manufacture and distribution. However, due to the sustained blocking efforts of the UK, Germany, and other EU nations, the WTO still has not passed the TRIPS waiver, which would temporarily remove the intellectual property rights preventing the manufacture of these treatments by countries who need them most.
To make matters worse, the critical WTO meeting to approve the TRIPS waiver was postponed this week because of the Omicron variant emergence and against the backdrop of Europe battling a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. While further analysis is required to understand the severity of the new variant and the efficacy of our current national vaccination strategies, it is clear that we have not been doing everything in our power to prevent the emergence and rapid spread of further mutations of COVID-19.