Reuters reported on the 15th that the discussion on the exemption of intellectual property rights for the novel coronavirus infection vaccine reached a tentative agreement after a year and a half.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) members, the United States, the European Union, South Africa and India, last week tentatively reached an agreement on key points related to the IPR exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine, the news agency reported, citing a source.
This applies to WTO member countries that exported less than 10% of the worlds vaccine dose as of last year.
The source added that the IPR exemption applies only to patents for COVID-19 vaccines, and it has been decided to make exceptions for COVID-19 treatments and test tools.
However, the agreement included that a decision would be made within the next six months as to whether or not the COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment system would be included in the exemption.
Details, including the period of IPR exemption, have not yet been finalized.
It is reported that vaccines made in China are highly likely to be excluded from IPR exemption.
For the agreement to be officially recognized, it is unclear whether it will be adopted or not, as formal approval from 164 WTO members is required.
So far, the WTO has continued to discuss vaccine IPR exemption to increase production of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, where vaccination rates are far behind developed countries.
If the agreement is finally adopted, it will open the way for developing countries that meet the exemption criteria to produce their own vaccines without the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine patent holder.
[Photo source: EPA = Yonhap News]