South Africa Permitted To Produce Covid-19 Vaccine

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While equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines was described as a human imperative by UNICEF, many poorer countries were not able to procure potentially life-saving doses of the vaccine, as rich countries hoarded vaccines. However, South Africa is now making progress.

 


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In October 2020, South Africa and India tabled a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the hope of achieving equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for countries.

After almost two years of delays, countries like South Africa will now be able to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines without the permission of patent holders

The proposal, commonly referred to as the TRIPS waiver, called for some aspects of the Intellectual Property (IP) rules to be removed to enable many more manufacturers to produce vaccines, testing kits and medicines as well as other medical technologies, to help end the global pandemic.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the TRIPS waiver compromise will contribute to ongoing efforts to deconcentrate and diversify vaccine manufacturing capacity and ensure that some regions are not cut off from crucial relief.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said the waiver was blocked by developed countries from the text-based agreement.

He explained that it was important to have a unified position (as African countries) on the challenges the waiver sought to address. The proposal was also supported by countries in Asia and South America.

“The first thing is that the waiver package will last for a five-year period and it can then be extended by the general counsel of the world trade organisation if the pandemic circumstances still require it. So irrespective of the development of the pandemic we have a minimum period of five years within which we can use this waiver” explained Patel.

 

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