Covid-19: Four Republican Senators urge US President to reject India and South Africa’s WTO proposal

India, South Africa and some countries proposed waiving all intellectual property rights for any innovation related to Covid-19 at the World Trade Organization
Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Four top Republican Senators are urging US President Joe Biden to turn down India and South Africa’s proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive anti-Covid vaccine patents to boost its supply.

In a letter to Biden, a group of four Republican Senators – Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst and Todd Young asked Biden to reject India and South Africa’s proposal to waive all intellectual rights for any innovation related to Covid-19 at the WTO. “The proponents of this scheme argue that if we just destroy the intellectual property developed by American companies, we will suddenly have more manufacturers producing COVID-19 vaccines,” the Senators said, alleging that some countries are of the opinion that they would benefit from taking US’ intellectual property.

The Senators also pointed out that accepting the proposal would mean that America would be ending its progress that led to the fast development of vaccines. “By destroying the intellectual property of every American company that has worked on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, we would be ending the progress – started under Operation Warp Speed – that led to the fastest development of life-saving vaccines in history,” they wrote in the letter to Biden.

The Senators also told Biden that even if the waiving of all intellectual rights temporarily could result in others attempting to copy and produce vaccines first developed by American companies. “It could introduce major quality control problems,” the four Senators pointed out.

“As a global leader and a force for good, we can do a lot to help other countries overcome the virus. But destroying our rights to intellectual property wouldn't advance our mission of fighting the virus, making the problem worse, for America and the world,” they said.

Even US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Centre Vice President Patrick Kilbride said that the proposal to waive property rights is to distract from the real work of assisting countries receive, distribute and vaccinate many citizens.

“Diminishing intellectual property rights would make it more difficult to quickly develop and distribute vaccines or treatments in the future pandemics the world will face,” Kilbride said in a statement.

Earlier, three senior US Congressmen and several American Civil Society Organizations asked the US President not to block the waiver of Covid-19 vaccines at the WTO.

Meanwhile, India is slowly seeing a rise in Covid-19 cases as the country reported 18,327 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking India’s active cases count to over 1.8 lakh. The country has also reported 14,234 recoveries and 108 deaths. Maharashtra led the charts with 10,216 new cases, followed by Kerala with 2,776 new cases. Other states are also seeing a small rise in cases.

Although some states are bringing back travel restrictions so that Covid-19 are not imported from other states, a shocking incident took place on Thursday evening when a passenger flying from New Delhi to Pune, informed that he is Covid-19 positive just before take-off. The passenger was flying from the capital to Pune on an IndiGo flight.

This passenger informed the cabin crew just before the flight was getting ready for take-off. The cabin crew notified the pilot who got in touch with the ground control and returned to the parking bay. Reportedly, passengers on three rows of seats were asked to get down and wait for containment. The Covid positive passenger was sitting on one of these seats. The Covid-19 passenger was taken to Safdarjung hospital in an ambulance.

The passengers who were waiting were provided with PPE kits. The flight was disinfected and the seat covers were changed before the flight took-off for Pune.

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