Union railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal | Photo: @PiyushGoyal on twitter
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal
on Thursday called for scaling up global production of vaccines and medical products to battle the pandemic.
This will require removal of barriers to the production of Covid-19 medical products, including where necessary intellectual property protection, Goyal said at an event organised by the World Trade Organization on “Covid-19 and vaccine equity: What can the WTO contribute?”
The minister said an inequitable vaccination
programme could prolong the pandemic for many years through cycles of mutation and might cost the global economy trillions of dollars as lost output and fiscal and monetary stimulus.
Last year, India and South Africa, along with 57 other WTO members, proposed a temporary waiver from certain provisions of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
agreement relevant to the prevention, treatment and containment of Covid-19. A waiver on certain provisions of the multilateral agreement is expected to help more countries, especially middle- and low-income nations to access vaccines. However, countries have been divided on the issue, with some developed nations opposing it.
“Waiver is not intended to take away protection given to pharma companies, it focuses only on Covid-19 vaccines, associated medicines, and cure,” Goyal said.
At the event, WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on WTO members, vaccine manufacturers, and international organisations to act to address trade-related obstacles to the scale-up of Covid-19 vaccine production. This would not only save lives, but also hasten the end of the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery, she said.