A patently wrong regime -Suhrith Parthasarathy

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published Published on Apr 28, 2021   modified Modified on Apr 28, 2021

-The Hindu

Over the last few decades, intellectual property rules have served as a lethal barrier to the right to access healthcare

Even an unprecedented pandemic can do little, it appears, to upset the existing global regime governing monopoly rights over the production and distribution of life-saving drugs. If anything, since the onset of COVID-19, we’ve only seen a reaffirmation of intellectual property rules that have served as a lethal barrier to the right to access healthcare over the last few decades. The neo-liberal order, under which these laws exist, is so intractable today that a matter as seemingly simple as a request for a waiver on patent protections is seen as a claim unworthy of exception.
Request for waiver

Request for waiver

On October 2 last year, India and South Africa submitted a joint petition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), requesting a temporary suspension of rules under the 1995 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). A waiver was sought to the extent that the protections offered by TRIPS impinged on the containment and treatment of COVID-19. As we now know, quick and efficient vaccination is the surest route to achieving global herd immunity against the virus. Should the appeal for waiver be allowed, countries will be in a position, among other things, to facilitate a free exchange of know-how and technology surrounding the production of vaccines.

The request for waiver has, since, found support from more than 100 nations. But a small group of states — the U.S., the European Union, the U.K. and Canada among them — continues to block the move. Their reluctance comes despite these countries having already secured the majority of available vaccines, with the stocks that they hold far exceeding the amounts necessary to inoculate the whole of their populations. Their decision is all the more galling when one considers the fact that for the rest of the world mass immunisation is a distant dream. Reports suggest that for most poor countries it would take until at least 2024 before widespread vaccination is achieved.

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The Hindu, 28 April, 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-patently-wrong-regime/article34424840.ece?homepage=true


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