US Trade Representative Meets WHO Chief, Discusses Vaccine Production
US trade Representative Katherine Tai on Friday virtually met World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to discuss increasing vaccine production and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on COVID-19 vaccines for the pandemic.According to a readout from her office, Tai explained the Biden-Harris administration's support for the waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines and explained that this fits the United States' comprehensive effort to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution around the world.She also asked Ghebreyesus for his views on the immediate steps to collectively increase access to vaccines.Tai asked how the WHO declares the existence, and the end, of a pandemic, and the steps the global health body is taking to increase pandemic preparedness. She and Ghebreyesus also agreed to stay in regular communication in the days ahead.Earlier, the US Trade Representative also met Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal to discuss on the same issues.As per the readout from her office, Tai conveyed her deep sympathy for the people of India as they battle a wave of COVID-19 cases and reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to help India during its time of need.She also explained her support for the TRIPS waiver and text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which are part of the Biden-Harris Administration's comprehensive effort to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution around the world.Tai recognized the WTO Members who have expressed support for future negotiations and welcomed an update from Goyal about India's efforts to revise and resubmit their waiver proposal. She and the Union Minister agreed to stay in regular communication in the days ahead.The TRIPS waiver aims to increase global vaccine production in order to take on the challenge of vaccinating the poorest of the poor and save lives.In October last year, India and South Africa, along with 57 members of WTO proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement for prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19.The WTO agreement on TRIPS is a comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property. US President Joe Biden's administration had on May 6 announced its support for a global waiver on patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines and said it will negotiate the terms at the WTO.