Current AffairsIndia

US mulls IP waiver for Covid products as Modi takes it up with Biden

New Delhi: The United States is considering a proposed waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-related products, vaccines and therapeutics, a senior official of the Biden administration said.

“It was discussed briefly. We are looking at it,” the official said at a White House briefing on Monday.

“And in coordination with the US Trade Representative that has the lead on that issue, we do very much and are very much working with partners like India to bolster manufacturing of vaccines and to look at how we can boost production globally of supply, including for the mRNA vaccine,” said another official, when asked whether Prime Minister Modi and President Biden discussed the subject and where does the President stand on this.

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai also during the day met virtually Pfizer Chairman Albert Bourla and discussed the proposed waiver to certain provisions of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bourla shared his views on the vital importance of enhancing global access to the vaccine and how trade policy could help address the challenges of increasing vaccine production and distribution around the world and they agreed to stay in communication going forward,” said a USTR readout.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in conversation with President Joe Biden earlier in the day, had brought up the issue, ahead of another round of informal meeting of the World Trade Organisation Council meeting.

Also, a group of 10 Senators, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, has written to President Biden earlier this month, asking about the US support of the India-South Africa initiative at the WTO along these lines.

India and South Africa last October had proposed at the WTO for a relaxation in the norms of the TRIPS Agreement to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines for developing countries

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