The richer members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) blocked a push by over 80 developing countries to waive patent rights in an effort to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines for poor nations.
South Africa and India renewed their bid to waive rules of the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement, a move that could allow generic or other manufacturers to make more vaccines. South Africa argued the current system does not work, pointing to the failure to secure life-saving medicines during the HIV/AIDS pandemic that had cost at least 11 million African lives.
The proposal was backed by dozens of largely developing countries at the WTO. Medecins Sans Frontieres in October had also put together a letter signed by over 375 civil society organizations supporting the waiver.
The proposal was opposed by Western countries, including Britain, Switzerland, EU nations and the United States, which have large domestic pharmaceutical industries.