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WTO Chief calls for decision on waiving monopolies on COVID vaccines by end February

February 7, 2022: WTO meetings held in December and January have failed to agree to waive monopoles on COVID vaccines  and treatments to increase global production and address the low vaccination rates of 10 per cent or less in low income countries.

This failure of the WTO process was recognised by the WTO Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has convened informal meetings between supporters and opponents to make progress. These meeting are ongoing,

320 medical experts call on Boris Johnson to support waiver on COVID19 vaccine monopolies

1 February, 2022: More than 320 scientists and public health experts in the UK have called on the British Government to support a waiver on vaccine patent monopolies at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which would allow low-income countries to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments for themselves.

MSF study shows COVAX vaccine donation scheme a broken promise

January 24, 2022: An MSF study shows why the COVAX donation scheme to distribute vaccines to low-income countries has fallen short of its promises for global vaccine equity. As of November 2021, more than 73% of people in high-income countries (HICs) had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with less than 6% of people in low-income countries. COVAX only raised half of its target of $2billion by the end of 2021, its main sponsors have not supported proposals to share vaccine knowledge through waiving monopolies on vaccines to increase global production .

Vaccine equity advocates call for patent-free access to COVID19 therapeutic baricitinib

18 January, 2022: Following a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of the drug baricitinib as a therapeutic medicine for COVID19, public health advocates at Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have called on the World Trade Organisation to lift intellectual property monopolies on COVID19 treatments and vaccines.

WTO plans more meetings on waiving vaccine monopolies as Omicron rages and civil society condemns delay

January 11, 2022: The World Trade Organisation General Council met virtually on January 10. This was a response to India’s recent proposal to hold an urgent virtual Ministerial Conference on the WTO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a proposed temporary waiver of WTO intellectual property rules on vaccine monopolies, which would enable production of affordable vaccines in low-income countries.

RCEP in force from January 1, but fails on human rights

January 10, 2022: Following ratification by the Australian and other governments, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came into force on January 1, 2022. Negotiations began in 2012 between sixteen countries, but India withdrew in 2019. Six ASEAN and five non-ASEAN governments have ratified. They are Australia, New Zealand,, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines have not yet ratified the RCEP.

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