India, S Africa's proposal for patent waiver on vax gets G7 support: MEA

A proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines to ensure their equitable access received widespread support at the G7 summit in the UK, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Sunday.

In a virtual address at an inaugural outreach session of the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought the support of the grouping to lift patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.

The MEA said Modi's call was supported by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, WTO Director-General Okonjo Iweala and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"I can confirm that there was widespread support in deliberations for text-based negotiations on the India-South Africa proposal for TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," P Harish, additional secretary (economic relations) in the MEA, said at a press conference.

The TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) council of the WTO is likely to start text-based negotiations on the proposal.

Calling on the G7 to demonstrate leadership, Modi sought the grouping's strong support for the proposal for a TRIPS waiver at the WTO, Harish said about the prime minister's remarks on Saturday at the session titled 'Building Back Stronger-Health'

"His call was echoed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Referring to his conversation with the prime minister earlier, PM Morrison expressed his strong support for the TRIPS waiver, as did the Director-General of the WTO, Okonjo Iweala, and the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who identified the TRIPS waiver as an important element of his 'Global Vaccination Plan'- a roadmap to vaccinate the entire global population by doubling vaccine production," Harish said.

He said French President Emmanuel Macron also highlighted the need to focus on ramping up production capacity in Africa and called on India to lend its expertise as an important production hub globally.

The Group of Seven (G7) comprises the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

As chair of G7, the UK invited India, Australia, South Korea, South Africa to the summit as Guest countries.

The G7 has pledged to donate an additional one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines within the next year.

Asked about G7's views on making available finances to boost vaccine production, the additional secretary said there was a general agreement to increase capacity in various regional manufacturing hubs and provide financing, technology transfer and skilling in these regions.

On whether the summit deliberated on how the COVID-19 originated in China, Harish did not give a direct reply.

"The leaders of the G7 and guest countries had a very intense and detailed discussion on the need for reforming the global health governance," he said.

"I would like to emphasise in this regard that India has been actively engaged with the international community at the levels of the G20, the G7 and the World Health Assembly on various aspects related to dealing with the current pandemic, learning lessons and preparing for future pandemics," he added.

Harish said Prime Minister Modi thanked the G7 and guest countries for the support shown to India during the difficult second wave of the pandemic and urged caution and vigilance even as things were getting better.

Modi also highlighted India's 'Whole of Government, Whole of Society' approach to the pandemic, with the efforts of governments at all levels, civil society and industry synergized for best results.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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