On 7th June 2022 the Third World Network reported that the UK, along with Switzerland, have been continuing to act to limit the scope of the TRIPS waiver text currently under negotiation.
Changes include limitation of the scope of the waiver through introduction of language that implicates an exhaustive list of what the waiver can cover. For example, the text now covers just the ingredients and processes required to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine. We call for this to be revised to include all health technologies, including vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, as well as other tools such as lipid molecules and equipment, and to include all forms of knowledge necessary for effective technology transfer.
Another limitation proposed by the UK is the removal of the word ‘supply’ so that the text only refers to production of health technologies. There is uncertainty around the motivation for this change, but it is likely to impede equitable access to health technologies. Further actions by the UK and Switzerland include reducing clarity on data sharing and encouraging the use of cumbersome reporting practices before countries are able to enact the waiver.
Everyone, everywhere should have equitable access to the health technologies needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK Government must stop acting to block progress within these negotiations and work to return the text to reflect the original TRIPS waiver proposal.
Saoirse Fitzpatrick, Advocacy Manager at STOPAIDS comments:
“Rather than standing in solidarity with the countries that have been on the frontlines of the inequity we’ve seen in terms of vaccine, and now treatment, access the UK Government are positioning themselves against them. These amendments indicate an aggressive step to add further limitations to an already weak text and we are deeply concerned about the precedent this sets for access to medicines in the future. We call on the UK Government to cease such actions and support the majority world with amendments that would expand the waiver to all COVID-19 tools, all relevant IP and all countries”