“The World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) was a dismal failure for the 85% of people in low-income countries that have not had a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine, for the billions of people worldwide without access to COVID-19 tests or outpatient oral antiviral treatments, and for a world wholly vulnerable to new variants.
“The WTO Director General and wealthy country member states have delivered an unworkable plan that is a net subtraction from what countries already could do under existing TRIPS provisions. The agreement includes no additional flexibilities for pandemic responses and currently excludes diagnostic tests and medicines. It imposes a regime mired in red tape around compulsory licensing for vaccines and excludes access to trade secrets and know-how. This is unworkable and the DG and wealthy country negotiators know it.
“The United States is particularly culpable for today’s outcome. Since May 2021, United States Trade Representative Tai has repeatedly stated that the Biden Administration’s goal is to ‘get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible,’ a phrase used over and over again in official comments and statements from USTR on this topic. On that basis alone, the U.S. should have rejected the proposal. Its support of this sham of a deal is a betrayal of President Biden’s commitment on the campaign trail and the USTR’s stated support for a TRIPS waiver to deliver real access for people who still don’t have it.
“The world will increasingly confront new pandemic emergencies. The WTO proved this week that it is not up to the challenges we face now or in the future.”