COVID-19: USTR, Piyush Goyal discuss vaccine production and TRIPS waiver

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Washington, May 14 (PTI) Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal discussed the proposed waiver to provisions of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19-specific items and raising vaccine production with United States Trade Representative (USTR), Katherine Tai, in a virtually meeting on Friday.

During the meeting, Tai conveyed her deep sympathy for the people of India as the country battles a deadly wave of COVID-19 and reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to help India, the USTR said in a readout of the call.

India is in the midst of a deadly wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with 3,43,144 people testing positive for the virus on Friday, taking the country's caseload to 2,40,46,809. The death toll stands at 2,62,317.

India's COVID-19 tally crossed the 10 million mark on December 19 and in under six months it has doubled, surpassing the grim milestone of 20 million cases on May 4.

Tai explained her support for the waiver of intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines and text-based negotiations at the WTO, which are part of the Joe Biden administration's comprehensive effort to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution around the world.

Tai recognised the WTO members who have expressed support for future negotiations and welcomed an update from Goyal on India's efforts to revise and re-submit their waiver proposal, the release said.

India and South Africa have been pushing a resolution at the WTO that would force pharmaceutical companies to hand over their COVID-19 vaccine and therapy IP to manufacturers in low-income countries. The waiver is backed by nearly 100 other low-income countries, progressive groups and more than 100 Democratic Congress members. PTI LKJ IND

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