WTO accused of “vaccine apartheid” – RT World News

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Lots of activist groups and civil society organizations have called on the World Trade Organization to stop a forthcoming meeting and insist that the agency stop enforcing intellectual property laws that give rise to “vaccine apartheid” around the world.

A coalition of more than 130 groups calling themselves “Our World is Not for Sale Network” wrote one mail to the international trade bloc on Wednesday and said that a WTO ministerial conference scheduled for next week should not be held until the organization approves a waiver of intellectual property rights, known as the TRIPS Agreement.

“The institution whose rules uphold vaccine apartheid is trying, unbelievably, to have a meeting under conditions of vaccine apartheid, without first resolving that apartheid by agreeing to the TRIPS waiver.” it said in the letter.

Continuing in these circumstances will further erode the legitimacy of the WTO and undermine the credibility of the new Director-General, at a time when the organization’s credibility is already at an all-time low.

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The group also argued that a formal ministerial meeting was not required to give the green light to the exemption, and that the decision could be taken unilaterally by the WTO General Council in Geneva.

Due to ongoing pandemic restrictions around the world, some Member States will not be able to send representatives to the meeting. While WTO “claims to be a consensus-based organization” to proceed with the event without all members present would ensure that decisions are made there “will lack any claim to legitimacy”, the letter attached.

The WTO itself took to the beginning Proposal to waive IP under consideration last year, an idea first floated by India and South Africa. No international break for Covid-related drug patents has been implemented since then, despite some rhetorical support from the US government.

READ MORE: Waiver of covid-19 vaccine on intellectual property rights “will not be enough” to address inequality, warns WTO chief

Big Pharma companies have meanwhile come out in opposition to the concept. In May, a federation representing the industry’s largest companies – including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Eli Lilly, La Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Merck – criticized the exemption plan as “wrong answer” shortly after US President Joe Biden approved it. Some European countries have also rejected the proposal, saying it would undermine years of costly research and development.

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