WTO Meeting Cancellation tells us, Once Again, TRIPS Waiver Needed, Now!

On Friday late evening, the WTO General Council decided to postpone indefinitely the Ministerial Council due to start tomorrow Tuesday 30 November. PSI is part of the over 130 unions and civil society organisations that had called for the MC12 to be cancelled a week ago, as there were already concerns about the ability of government representatives and representatives of unions and civil society to join the meeting.

The vaccine apartheid that rich countries and the WTO have refused to address is ultimately responsible for the decision to postpone the talks that were due to take place this week.

The EU, Germany, UK and Switzerland need to support the TRIPS waiver.

But this wasn't inevitable. Epidemiologists had warned that low levels of vaccinations posed the risk of new variants emerging. The WTO rules that provide patent privileges to pharma by limiting vaccine and treatment supplies needed to end the pandemic have been part of causing the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The Delta variant was a first warning that leaders of high-income countries that are protecting the profits of big pharma decided to ignore. This is once more evidence of the cost of siding with big pharma that a handful of governments and bureaucrats are making all of us pay.

Covid-19 in numbers


lost their lives


Big Pharma make in profits every 15 minutes


of all vaccines for low-income countries

More than 5 million people are recorded to have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the actual numbers are estimated to be much higher. Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are making over $1,000,000 in pre-tax profits every 15 minutes, while only 0.6% of all vaccines produced have been administered in low-income countries. Enough is enough.

The European Commission, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland need to support the TRIPS waiver. The European Parliament and US President Biden have renewed their commitment to support lifting patents and other barriers to vaccines production. This is welcome but falls short of recognising that one size does not fit all and locally appropriate responses to the pandemic will require access to a range of health tools, including diagnostics and treatments.

The WTO should hold an emergency online General Council meeting this week to adopt the TRIPS waiver proposed by India and South Africa. This is urgent.