The US has earlier supported India’s request, along with South Africa, on the TRIPS waiver at the WTO summit in Rome, but this fell short of expectations when a majority of the EU nations presenting a watered down document to vote against it.
South Africa and India formally requested the TRIPS Council to recommend the waiver to the WTO General Council in October 2020. The request was co-sponsored by Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, the African Group (negotiating for 43 WTO members), and the Least Developed Countries Group (negotiating for 35 members).
The proponents of the waiver argued that “existing vaccine manufacturing capacities in the developing world remained unutilized because of IP barriers, and hence insufficient amounts of vaccines [are] being produced to end the pandemic.” The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had also endorsed the spirit of the waiver.
The WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said it was clear that an IP waiver alone would not be enough to narrow the huge gap between rich and poor countries.