USTR Tai speaks with Bill Gates on TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 pandemic

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Apr 29 (PTI) US Trade Representative Katherine Tai held a virtually meeting with Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates on the proposed waiver to certain provisions of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid increasing support for a TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines by a large number of American lawmakers, Gates of late has come out in opposition to a request on the same before the WTO brought by India and South Africa.

The Biden Administration has been holding a series of consultations with various stakeholders in this regard, including major pharma companies like Pfizer and Moderna.

'United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai met virtually yesterday with Bill Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to discuss increasing vaccine production, global health issues and the proposed waiver to certain provisions of the WTO Agreement on TRIPS for the COVID-19 pandemic,' the USTR said in a readout of the call.

During the call, Tai emphasized that the Biden-Harris administration’s top priority was saving lives and ending the pandemic, and she stressed her commitment to working on a coordinated global response to the viral outbreak.

Early this week, she held meetings with CEOs of several major pharma companies.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna too has voiced his disagreement with Gates' stand on the issue.

'I rarely think Bill Gates is wrong, but this is a case I hope he will engage. The point that Bill Gates made about manufacturing capacity being restricted is absolutely correct. But what I said is why not have a global fund, USD25 billion, to help with manufacturing capacity and then allow the vaccine recipes to be shared,” he said. PTI LKJ IJT