Pakistan, Nepal assist WTO proposal co-sponsored by India-South Africa

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22

The Indian approach to lowering COVID-19 vaccine prices has found support from Pakistan, as well as all other neighbours, but China has sought time to study it further.

A meeting of a WTO panel on Friday witnessed Pakistan, Kenya, Mozambique and Eswatini joining the India-South Africa proposal for suspending patents and other intellectual property (IP) restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for the duration of the pandemic, until global herd immunity is achieved.

China has welcomed the proposal but India’s global security partners such as the US and the EU, as well as their pharmaceutical corporations, have not shown any willingness to take a different approach during the pandemic to ensure broad access to needed products, said sources.

India is engaged in a consensus-building exercise in the run-up to a decision towards the middle of next month. Faced with opposition from the US, the EU and Brazil, the proposal was put off when it was first tabled at the WTO, with support from the WHO, on October 2.

The Indian and South African leadership to the proposal has led to wide backing that is approximately close to three-fourths of the WTO membership, said sources.

It has also found support from Medicines Sans Frontiers that urged all governments to “support this lifesaving move by India and South Africa to make sure human lives are prioritised and countries can tackle this pandemic by scaling up every COVID-19 medical tool that exists”.

“Nobody can afford to let corporations that have been supported by billions in publicly-funded research money to simply pursue their bottom-line interests without regard to global COVID needs. This pandemic will not be over until it’s over for everyone,’’ it said.

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