Ahead of WTO Ministerial Conference, WHO report supports vaccine equity

November 24, 2021:

Ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) next week, there are growing calls to lift intellectual property monopolies on vaccines and medical equipment. In a progress report on the global response to the pandemic, the World Health Organisation Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has reiterated its support for the TRIPS waiver, saying:

As voluntary licensing agreements have not yet been forth-coming, WTO member states must use upcoming Ministerial Conference to align on TRIPS waiver.”

Announcing the report, co-author and former co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, Helen Clark, stated:

“Put bluntly, global public health should not be held hostage to manufacturers who purchase patents (many developed with public monies) to spin into profit, with wealthy countries willing and able to pay top dollar for the products and buy more than they need, thereby excluding others from getting the access they need.”

Expanding on the report’s recommendations, Helen Clark told ABC Radio Breakfast:

“What we need is scaled-up manufacturing. We need to get the know-how out to many more vaccination manufacturing centres around the world, particularly the developing companies. Unfortunately, it’s not just the vaccines that were hoarded, it’s the manufacturing capacity and the IP that has been hoarded as well.”

“You shouldn’t in a pandemic have a market model for getting these kinds of goods out there. You need a global public goods model, an end-to-end solution.”

The former Prime Minister’s comments come as The Guardian UK published an editorial criticising the UK’s intransigence on the TRIPS waiver, writing:

“The EU and UK continue to block patent waivers for vaccines, and richer nations still grab more doses than they need… Proper sharing of doses and of the information needed to make them is essential. What the world needs is not limited gestures, but large-scale, substantive and principled action.”

  • To read the full Guardian editorial, click here.
  • To listen to the full interview with Helen Clark, click here.
  • To read the progress report, ‘Losing time: End this pandemic and secure the future’, click here.
  • To read the summary of the Progress Report, click here.