India and South Africa are working together in the US to get a TRIPS waiver of Covid-19 vaccines
Diplomats from India and South Africa are working together to convince American lawmakers and policymakers they need to support their proposal before the WTO to temporarily move on to some of the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) during the Covid-19 emergency dispense.
Due to the gravity of the situation in various countries around the world, including India, the diplomats from both countries turned daily against the US Capitol and the corridors of power in Washington DC, which for the most part virtually underscores the situation, indicating that this is one of the key elements for is the saving of life.
In addition to the high-ranking diplomats from both countries, the two ambassadors – Taranjt Singh Sandhu from India and Nomaindiya Cathleen Mfeketo from South Africa – have made coordinated efforts to reach out to both legislators on Capitol Hill and policymakers in the Biden administration.
On Monday, Sandhu had a virtual meeting with the Kenyan ambassador to the USA, Lazarus O Amayo.
Good conversation with Ambassador Lazarus O Amayo @KenyaembassyDC. Discussed issues related to working together on affordable COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics to ensure global public health and strengthen the fight against the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/ufcDxbQHjc
– Taranjit Singh Sandhu (@SandhuTaranjitS) May 3, 2021
“Discussed issues related to working together on affordable Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics to ensure global public health and strengthen the fight against the pandemic,” Sandhu tweeted.
Reading | Fauci’s advice to India: End the nationwide lockdown and launch a massive vaccination campaign
While the Trump administration has not yet made a call on the matter, its top officials have conducted a series of intensive consultations with various stakeholders, including major Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna, as well as World Trade Organization (WTO) and top Business stakeholders such as the US Chambers of Commerce.
This is reflected in the readings issued by the office of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai last month following her meetings with various stakeholders.
Tai met virtually with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Daren Tang on Monday to discuss increasing vaccine production and the role of intellectual property in addressing pandemic issues.
Tai and Tang shared their views on the specific challenges developing countries face and the proposed waiver of certain provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for the Covid-19 pandemic. Said USTR.
The WTO is expected to hold a meeting on the subject on May 5th. While the White House is agreeable and considerate of the issue raised by India and South Africa, it remains undecided to facilitate the protection of Covid-19 vaccine patents to encourage overseas production.
Also read | U.S. medical flights to India were delayed through Wednesday
“There has not yet been a decision or recommendation from USTR that has been presented to the President, and no decision has yet been made. Our overall goal, however, is to serve the world community as best we can, and to do so in a cost-effective manner. And that’s our consideration, “White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week.
However, the massive reach of India and South Africa has resulted in overwhelming support from Congressmen on this issue. Democrats and progressive lawmakers in particular have called on the Biden government to weaken patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.
Last week, more than 100 Congressmen wrote a letter to President Joe Biden stating that from a global public health perspective, this waiver is critical to ensuring adequate volume and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and – Ensure therapeutics around the world.
The TRIPS waiver is also important to ensure that all global economies, including the US economy, can recover from the pandemic and thrive. Put simply, we have to have vaccines, tests and treatments available everywhere if we are to destroy the virus anywhere, the letter said.
In their letters to Biden, India Caucus leaders in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate called for TRIPS to renounce Covid-19 vaccines.
At the individual level, lawmakers like Indian-American Congressman Pramila Jayapal, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna have been very vocal on the issue, as have powerful Democratic senators like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.