The head of the World Trade Organisation said there was a pathway for a global deal to get more Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, despite a split over whether drugs firms should be stripped of their intellectual property rights. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, speaking to reporters before joining discussions among leaders of the Group of Seven nations, said she was hopeful there would be more clarity on the way ahead for the IP waiver issue by July. “It may be difficult because some of the positions, maybe, are a little bit far apart, but there is a pathway,” she said. “I would very much like to see some form of progress by July.” WTO members agreed on Wednesday to start formal talks on a plan to boost Covid-19 vaccine supply to developing countries but the battle lines are drawn for tough negotiations. South Africa and India, backed by many emerging nations, want a temporary waiver of IP rights on vaccines and other treatments to allow local manufacturers to produce shots. US President Joe Biden has said he backs a temporary waiver. But other developed nations, many home to large pharmaceutical companies, say such a move would not boost production and could undermine research and development.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13h, 2021.

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