LOS ANGELES (December 6, 2022) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has put the brakes on the international negotiations that sought to expand access to COVID-19 diagnostics and treatments by lifting patent protections in developing countries.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was set to decide on the patent waiver by Dec. 17, but now the USTR says the U.S. government will not back the initiative until it has time to study its impact. The announcement comes after the U.S. backed a similar proposal in June covering COVID-19 vaccine know-how.
“Unlike vaccines, which require bespoke proteins and must be grown in a lab, tests and treatments can be more easily reverse engineered if generic manufacturers have the blueprint—that’s why Big Pharma is leveraging its considerable lobbying power to stall the WTO patent waiver this time around,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “During pandemics and international outbreaks, global health security must unequivocally take precedence over corporate profits. We urge the USTR to expedite the review of the WTO proposal and endorse it in line with the earlier decision on the vaccines – with the resurgence of COVID-19, millions of lives depend on it.”
AHF has strongly supported the emergency waiver of patents on COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics through its Vaccinate Our World (VOW) campaign since India and South Africa first introduced the idea at the World Trade Organization in 2020. Learn more about the VOW campaign here.