India on Thursday said temporary waiver of certain provisions of intellectual property rights under a WTO agreement would be an important step to enable scaling up of manufacturing and timely availability of affordable COVID-19 vaccines and essential medical products.
In view of the COVID-19 crisis, India and South Africa had on October 2 last year proposed in WTO a relaxation in norms of the TRIPS agreement to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines for developing countries.
India welcomed the US government's support for this initiative.
"We are hopeful that with a consensus based approach, the waiver can be approved quickly at the WTO. The waiver is an important step for enabling rapid scaling up of manufacture and timely availability of affordable Covid-19 vaccines and essential medical products," the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement.
The proposal has received support of more than 120 countries.
"We welcome the US government supporting this initiative and joining 120 other countries working towards affordable COVID-19 vaccines," Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.
The statement also said during his phone call with US President Joe Biden on April 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed him about India's initiative at the WTO which was aimed at the benefit of humanity.
The Biden administration has backed the initiative by India and South Africa at the WTO to temporarily waive patent rules on COVID-19 vaccines, seen as a breakthrough in the global fight against the deadly pandemic by potentially expanding the supply of the vaccines and more affordable doses for less wealthy nations.
Announcing the major policy decision after intense internal debate and strong pushback from American drugmakers, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Wednesday said that this is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic call for extraordinary measures.
In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO (World Trade Organization) members on the implementation, application and enforcement of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.
The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995.
It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.