COMMENT | European duplicity undermines anti-pandemic efforts

Anis Chowdhury & Jomo Kwame Sundaram


COMMENT | Despite facing the world’s worst pandemic of the last century, rich countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) have blocked efforts to enable more affordable access to the means to fight the pandemic.

Everyone knows access for all to the means for testing, treatment and prevention – including diagnostic tests, therapeutic medicines, personal protective equipment and vaccines – is crucial.

In October 2020, South Africa and India requested the WTO to temporarily suspend relevant provisions of its Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips). By May 2021, the proposal had 62 co-sponsors and support from more than two-thirds of WTO member states.

Despite overwhelming support from low- and middle-income countries, Western governments, Big Pharma and other industry officials dismiss this waiver request as not only unnecessary, but also undermining future technological innovation.

Although most European Parliament members support the waiver proposal, it is actively opposed by European governments and the European Commission (EC), the European Union (EU) executive...

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