WHO & WTO converge on bilateral tech transfer for vaccines. What this means for the TRIPS Waiver

The WTO vaccine equity event showed potential for spare manufacturing capacity and the willingness to finance it. But will this be followed up voluntary technology transfer to address production shortages, or will this be left to the discretion of bilateral deals decided by manufacturers? And was this event meant to draw attention away from the TRIPS waiver talks now reaching a critical stage? There are emerging convergences between the WTO and WHO, on the approaches towards bilateral technology transfer to spur the production of vaccines. This will inevitably have repercussions for the TRIPS waiver proposal. While it is not clear … Continue reading WHO & WTO converge on bilateral tech transfer for vaccines. What this means for the TRIPS Waiver

WHO donors seek a new tech transfer hub under ACT-A, C-TAP sidelined

A new technology transfer hub to facilitate bilateral licensing arrangements, is being proposed by France and powerful private groups, to be under established in the ACT Accelerator, away from the C-TAP. For a world grappling with acute shortages of vaccines – the panacea to fight the pandemic and to restore the economy – technology transfer has come to emerge as a key to unlock idle manufacturing capacities which can be repurposed to churn out vaccines for an endless global queue of susceptible populations under the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. One year into the pandemic and more than 2.6 … Continue reading WHO donors seek a new tech transfer hub under ACT-A, C-TAP sidelined

Could Vaccine Nationalism Spur Disputes At The WTO?

Experts believe that the solution to vaccine nationalism is not filing disputes, but negotiations. But lawyers anticipate disputes even if filed simply for political leverage. Vaccine nationalism, a condition that has flourished during COVID-19, is loosely understood as the tendency of countries to hoard vaccines. But protectionist trade practices of hoarding medical supplies began as soon as the pandemic hit. This is now taking a serious turn with export restriction measures adopted by some countries. This could lead to a real possibility of countries taking the legal route to file disputes at the WTO, even if only for political leverage, experts say. … Continue reading Could Vaccine Nationalism Spur Disputes At The WTO?

The Third Way: Unblocking the TRIPS Waiver Logjam

The Third Way suggested by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO’s new director-general who assumes office on Monday, March 1, may pave the way for negotiations on the TRIPS Waiver proposal, sources in Geneva say. In her remarks recently, Okonjo-Iweala suggested the use of TRIPS flexibilities and the voluntary licensing approach to deftly address the pandemic. This, proponents of the TRIPS Waiver proposal, say, could be a significant moment in these discussions, which could bring to the negotiating table countries opposing the waiver. So far, opposing countries have locked the proponents of the proposal in a so-called “evidentiary loop” without moving towards text-based negotiations. For … Continue reading The Third Way: Unblocking the TRIPS Waiver Logjam

A pandemic treaty: reforming global health security

For months experts and critics have been exhorting WHO and its member states to use the organization’s constitutional mandate specifically its treaty-making powers to deftly address the urgency of the pandemic. Mostly critics want WHO to use its constitutional powers to quell the pandemic and to address the difficult issue of access to medicines, for example, given the glaring inequities in the access to vaccines during the current pandemic. However, given the inexorable emphasis on global health security, it was perhaps not so surprising when DG Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus casually put the idea of a pandemic treaty to member states during the … Continue reading A pandemic treaty: reforming global health security

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Moment in the sun for TRIPS Waiver plan

ROAD AHEAD FOR GREATER DELIBERATION IN 2021: TRIPS WAIVER PROPOSAL AT WTO The General Council at WTO, the organization’s highest level decision-making body, this week, discussed the TRIPS waiver proposal first put forward by South Africa and India in October this year. With this, the proponents successfully pushed this crucial proposal for political consideration before the world’s trade policy makers. The stage is now set for further deliberation in the coming weeks early in 2021. South Africa has also requested for an extraordinary General Council meeting to take this forward. The significance of the discussion of this proposal at the General Council, … Continue reading Moment in the sun for TRIPS Waiver plan

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Some of our top stories of 2020

Capturing policy-making on the pandemic in real-time: stories from Geneva Health Files I seek to make this a reader-funded initiative. You can make a contribution using a paypal account: paypal.me/genevahealthfiles Your donations are crucial to keep this effort going! If you wish to share information or have suggestions, write to me: patnaik.reporting@gmail.com Continue reading Some of our top stories of 2020

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No consensus on TRIPS talks

Developed countries shift narrative raising questions on safety and efficacy issues around drugs As images of the elderly in the UK receiving the first vaccine shots to protect against COVID-19 flashed across the world, the reality of the lack of access to vaccines in the poorer countries became stark. It is in this backdrop, that countries discussed the so-called TRIPS waiver proposal, which seeks to temporarily suspend intellectual property protection to hasten the access to COVID-19 medical products. Countries today kicked the can down the road so to speak, even as the world is losing crucial time in its fight … Continue reading No consensus on TRIPS talks


An informal meeting was convened at the TRIPS Council today (December 3) to discuss the TRIPS waiver proposal. Discussions on the TRIPS waiver proposal is expected to continue in the TRIPS Council in 2021. We will come back with a fuller report on this next week, here are some details which emerged from today’s meeting. It is understood that the African Group may decide to co-sponsor the proposal after consultations with the capitals. Kenya, Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Argentina are understood to have expressed their support to the waiver proposal at the informal meeting today. South Africa and India have … Continue reading TRIPS COUNCIL INFORMAL MEETING ON TRIPS WAIVER PROPOSAL

TRIPS waiver discussions: moving the needle

TRIPS WAIVER: THE NEEDLE HAS MOVED, BUT THE FIGHT IS ON EU bloc and others, push for TRIPS flexibilities, a defining departure from the past Countries are making slow but sure progress in discussing a proposal to temporarily waive certain obligations under the TRIPS agreement at the WTO. After an informal meeting of the TRIPS Council last week, countries are now having bilateral discussions seeking clarifications from co-sponsors of the proposal including South Africa and India. The waiver proposal seeks to allow all countries to not grant or enforce intellectual property protection for the duration of the pandemic, until widespread … Continue reading TRIPS waiver discussions: moving the needle