South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday welcomed the US support to temporary and targeted waiver of intellectual property protections that apply to COVID-19 vaccines and urged the pharmaceutical giants to share the knowledge to save lives during such moments of crisis.
The United States announced on Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic was a global health crisis, which called for extraordinary measures.
The United States said it believed strongly in intellectual property protections. However, in service of ending the pandemic, it would at forthcoming negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) support the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
Referring to the growing global consensus on the suggested waiver, Ramaphosa called on all pharmaceutical companies to facilitate sharing of know-how and technology to enable a rapid increase in supply-capacity in order to save lives.
India and South Africa have been pushing a resolution at the WTO that would force pharmaceutical companies to hand over their COVID vaccine and therapy IP to manufacturers in low-income countries.
The waiver is backed by some 100 other low-income countries, progressive groups and more than 100 Democratic Congress members.
South Africa welcomes the position adopted by the United States as an important reinforcement of a campaign led by South Africa and India on behalf of emerging economies that face vaccine shortages and production challenges, Ramaphosa said in a statement.
The anticipated temporary waiver provides a global response to COVID-19. The proposal establishes a global solution to enhance manufacturing and boost supply capacity, and enables coordination and access to information currently under patent protection, he added.
Ramaphosa said that for countries that do not currently have manufacturing capacity on certain medical technologies, the waiver could open up more supply options and avoid countries being reliant on only one or two suppliers.
Where supply-capacity currently exists, it can be repurposed to COVID-vaccine production and in this way improve the supply available to all nations, he concluded.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)