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India’s Statement delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO at the General Council Meeting held on 18 December, 2020 on Agenda Item No. 13B - Status Report on the Consideration by the TRIPS Council of the ‘Proposal for Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19’ – Statement by the Chair of the Council for TRIPS

General Council Meeting

December 16-18, 2020


Statement by India - Delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO



Thank you Chair.

We thank the TRIPS Council Chair for the status report. We would also like to thank the Members for a constructive debate in TRIPS Council on the Waiver Proposal. More than half of WTO Membership has expressed support. We also acknowledge the tremendous support from various Organisations and multilateral agencies. Rarely has an issue being dealt within WTO, united so many divergentgroups of society across developed, developing and Least Developed Countries in delivering a clear message.

  1. While discovering vaccines was a test of science, making them accessible and affordable is going to be a test of our humanity. Now that we can see the silver lining in terms of emerging successful vaccines; it is in every Member's interest, economic or otherwise, that this pandemic is brought under control as early as possible by providing an equitable, affordable and timely access to vaccines for all. Even for economic argument, 1%of improvement in world GDP from baseline scenario will add more than US$ 800 billion in global output.
  1. During the initial stages of pandemic, we have seen nations pursue their health security goals. All of us witnessed the shortages of essential COVID-19 items, like PPE kits, gloves, sanitizers etc. at the start of the pandemic. But the world was able to upscale the manufacturing of these items by pooling resources and production capacities. At present, we need the same pooling of IP rights and know-how for scaling up the manufacturing of vaccines and treatments, which unfortunately has not been forthcoming, necessitating the need for waiver.
  1. Chair, we would like to emphasize that this is not a proposal only for India but for the global community at large. India may be having the required manufacturing capacity and the national legislations to cater to its needs. But we believe that in a global pandemic, where every country is affected, we need a global solution. Global community should not be looking inward at this juncture. Though we have repeatedly heard that no one is safe until everyone is safe, yet even the most optimistic scenarios today cannot assure access to vaccines and therapeutics for all, even by the end of 2021.
  1. WTO has responsibility to ensure that any of its agreement including TRIPS do not become a barrier to accessing vaccines, treatments, or technologies in the global response to COVID-19. Our Waiver Proposal is a targeted and proportionate response to COVID-19, as it seeks waiver for a limited period from four specific sections of the TRIPS Agreement. It will ensure that the intellectual property rights do not restrict rapid scaling up of manufacturing of COVID-19 products. All Members have agreed that real challenge now is to ramp up manufacturing capacity.
  1. Chair, we welcome the global cooperation initiatives including COVAX and ACT-accelerator. However, these initiatives are inadequate to meet the massive global needs of the 7.8 billion people of this world. None of the pharma companies developing the vaccines have joined WHO’s C-TAP initiative which encourages voluntary contribution of IP, technology and data to support global sharing and scale-up of manufacturing and supply of COVID- 19 medical products.
  1. Compulsory licenses are issued on a country by country, case by case and product by product basis, where every jurisdiction with IPs would have to issue separate compulsory license, practically making collaboration among countries extremely onerous. While the proponents encourage the use of TRIPS flexibilities, the same are time-consuming and cumbersome to implement. Hence, their use in context of COVID-19 pandemic does not present a viable option.
  1. Chair, over the course of four (formal and informal) meetings of TRIPS Council, proponents have provided substantive answers including evidence based answers to the questions raised by some Members, with the spirit of constructive engagement. We will be interested in knowing that further evidences are sought. 
  1. Chair, it is important to keep in mind that how the WTO Membership chooses to respond to this pandemic today will be remembered for years to come. We need to take time-bound action now and prove to the world that WTO can indeed deliver in times of crisis. History is being written today. It is up to the Members to choose which side of history they would like to be. We hope that all WTO Members will rise to the collective call of action and can achieve consensus for the Waiver that is so crucial for saving people’s lives.
  1. Thank you, Chair