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NGOs urge Biden to push for changes to WTO’s COVID waiver text -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – The name “COVID-19”, is seen in the drop of a needle on a syringe in this illustration, taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Oxfam America and Partners in Health, along with other civil society organizations, urged President Joe Biden in Washington to push for amendments in a draft deal on waiving intellectual rights for COVID-19 vaccinations. This was in response to divisions in the text.

Biden was sent a letter on Monday by the two groups, which Reuters viewed. The letters stated that the “outcome document” produced after lengthy discussions among the principal parties – India (the United States), the European Union, South Africa and South Africa – fell short of the “righteous goal” to remove IP barriers from COVID vaccinations.

The World Economic Forum, Davos in Switzerland will host a meeting of trade ministers to address the matter. This informal meeting follows a meeting with the 164 World Trade Organization members on May 1st.

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (WTO Director General) is pushing for an agreement before a ministerial conference that starts June 12.

Biden’s groups that petitioned him said the text did not eliminate patent barriers needed to produce the vaccines you rightly identified to help save people from the pandemic.

And they warned that it “adds new obstacles and conditions” limiting countries’ use of existing flexibilities in WTO rules.

While the majority of WTO members agree with the waiver concept, originally proposed by South Africa and India in October 2020 respectively, there are some concerns that the proposal is too specific and focuses only on vaccines.

A consensus must be reached before the deal can proceed. Any member of the organization may veto the agreement.

ReThink Trade is also represented by Citizens Trade Campaign and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. Biden was sent a detailed chart that outlines the necessary changes to achieve his May 2021 goals.

They asked Biden to press for change despite EU resistance and expand the waiver to cover treatment and tests.