UK faces calls to drop opposition to patent-free Covid vaccines - (The Guardian via NewsPoints Desk)

  • The UK will be asked to reconsider its opposition to waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

  • India and South Africa have proposed that WTO member states be allowed to waive patents and other intellectual property (IP) rights on any treatments and tools related to COVID-19 until the end of the pandemic.

  • Those opposing the move include the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and the EU, according to the news source.

  • The UK government has said the existing IP system allowed for drugmakers to voluntarily share data and technology, and some had already done so.

  • "Beyond hypotheticals, we have not identified clear ways in which IP has acted as a barrier to accessing vaccines, treatments, or technologies in the global response to Covid-19," the UK’s mission to the WTO has said.

  • Companies such as AstraZeneca and Novavax have entered agreements with Gavi, an alliance that aims to increase immunisation in poor countries, while Moderna has said it will not enforce its patents for the course of the pandemic, and companies such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have suggested they will sell their vaccines at cost price for a temporary period.

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