WTO Members to stretch deadline on extending TRIPS Decision to COVID diagnostics, therapeutics

At a formal meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), members agreed on the content of the report that the Chair, Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone, will submit on this issue to the General Council, scheduled to meet on December 19-20, 2022.

The report reads as follows:

“In view of paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement adopted on June 17, 2022 (the ”Decision”) providing that no later than 6 months from the date of this Decision, members will decide on its extension to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics, the TRIPS Council recommends that the General Council extend the deadline.”

Ambassador Gberie said that the report will be circulated as a formal document and presented to the General Council next week, as agreed by members.

At the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12), trade ministers adopted the TRIPS Decision, which confirms the right of members to override the exclusive effect of patents and provide greater scope to take direct action to diversify production of COVID-19 vaccines through clarifications of existing flexibilities and a targeted waiver over the next five years.

In paragraph 8, the Decision contains a commitment that by December 17, 2022, members would decide on its possible extension to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. Since then, members have not been able to reach consensus on the substance of the matter despite numerous meetings held in recent months in various configurations.