The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on pharmaceutical companies to waiver their patent rights on all medicines and vaccines that are aimed at dealing with COVID-19 until the pandemic is over.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus says this will enable access to vaccines for all member countries. This week, some African countries received the vaccines that were purchased through the COVAX facility.

Tedros Ghebreyesus appeals for the patent waiver:

MSF calls for waiver of patents

Earlier this week, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staged a protest at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against what it said was the rich world’s reluctance to waiver patents and allow more production of COVID-19 vaccines for poorer nations.

Activists seeking a waiver of intellectual property rules unfurled a huge sign reading “No COVID Monopolies – Wealthy Countries Stop Blocking TRIPS Waiver” in the park next to the WTO’s headquarters on Lake Geneva.

They want the terms of the TRIPS agreement, the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, to be overridden to allow generic or other manufactures to make the new products.

WTO member states hold fresh talks next week on a proposal by India and South Africa to waive such rules for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.

“If we had the waiver, we’d be able in a number of countries to scale up production right now, which would allow for the diagnostics, the medicines, and the vaccines to get where they’re needed most,” says Stephen Cornish, general director of MSF Switzerland.

“Right now we are seeing just a trickle of vaccines making it to the global South, and this is just not acceptable in today’s world,” he said.

Some 100 countries now support the campaign, Cornish added. – additional reporting by Reuters