The Future is Equal

Reaction to WTO delay on easing intellectual property rules on COVID tests and treatment

Responding to news that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will push back its deadline to reach a deal on easing intellectual property rules on Covid-19 tests and treatments to support the production of cheaper generic equivalents in developing countries, Max Lawson, Co-Chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance and Head of Inequality Policy at Oxfam, said:

“We are nearly three years into the Covid-19 pandemic. As many as seventeen million people are estimated to have died in the time that the WTO has bickered over intellectual property rules for tests and treatments. To say that more time is needed to consider the issue is utter nonsense.

“Developing countries and civil society groups had hoped that the WTO had learned from its mistakes; that the cruel injustice of vaccine apartheid would not be repeated. Even the EU has previously said it would support action on tests and treatments. But WTO members have decided to let another year pass without making any meaningful contribution to the fight against Covid-19.

“Each day of delay will push an ever-greater share of the global toll of severe illness, deaths, and economic damage onto developing countries. That should haunt the conscience of the rich country leaders and negotiators responsible for the failure to meet the deadline.”

Notes to editors