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US supports patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines: law expert comments

The United States has announced that it supports a move by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily lift patent protection for coronavirus vaccines, which might give lower income countries to better access to Covid-19 vaccines. Dr Sharifah Sekalala of Warwick Law School comments on the further challenges ahead.

Dr Sharifah Sekalala said: "I really welcome the fact that the US administration and New Zealand are now pushing for a TRIPS waiver. However, reflecting on the last TRIPS waiver which took a significant amount of time to agree, there is a need to ensure that these negotiations break the mould of international law making. Countries need to do three things: Firstly, because the WTO only makes law by consensus, we need more countries on board, especially European countries which are still officially opposed to the waiver. Secondly, we need to prioritise the WTO negotiations for a waiver because the world doesn’t have time, and lastly in the interests of promoting the right to health and life, we need to ensure that countries don’t water down the provisions of the current proposals thereby making them unusable for countries of the global south in the future. We have seen this before in previous negotiations so we need to be alert to this."

6 May 2021


Peter Thorley
Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics)


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