AFTE Statement on Potential TRIPS Waiver
WASHINGTON (March 18) — Today, the Alliance for Trade Enforcement (AFTE) released the following statement regarding the purported agreement between the United States, European Union, India, and South Africa to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines:
“AFTE maintains its position that waiving any part of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is misguided and dangerous and will do nothing to combat COVID-19.
“Recent reports that the United States, India, South Africa, and the EU have reached a preliminary compromise to waive critical intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly concerning. While we are awaiting final agreed text, continued efforts to waive TRIPS obligations will only distract leaders from addressing the actual barriers keeping vaccines from getting into the arms of patients.
“It is wholly unnecessary to waive TRIPS in an attempt to increase vaccine supply, with recent statements from global health leaders stressing that the problem is no longer supply — but distribution and demand. It has been well established that intellectual property protections have not hindered vaccine production or distribution. Biopharmaceutical companies have produced and delivered nearly 12 billion COVID-19 vaccines to date and are on track to produce more than 20 billion doses by the end of 2022 — more than enough to vaccinate every person on Earth.
“But millions of those available doses have expired before they could be used due to logistical problems and vaccine hesitancy. The surplus has gotten so large, in fact, that the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention asked that all COVID-19 vaccine donations to African nations be paused until later this year. And the Serum Institute of India — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — has completely stopped production of COVID-19 vaccines due to insufficient demand.
“Waiving TRIPS obligations will not address the distribution challenges. But it will set a very harmful precedent that will irreparably damage the innovation system that generated these lifesaving treatments in the first place. The Alliance for Trade Enforcement urges global leaders to uphold the TRIPS agreement and shift their focus to the significant logistical challenges that remain in the global fight against COVID-19.”
About the Alliance for Trade Enforcement: The Alliance for Trade Enforcement is a coalition of trade associations and business groups that advocates for foreign governments to end unfair trade practices that harm U.S. innovative industries and supports U.S. policymakers in their efforts to hold our trading partners accountable.