The meeting was held to discuss a proposal floated by India, South Africa, the US and the EU to waive patents on Covid-19 vaccines.
Sources said discussions on the proposal will continue as some countries like the UK said the proposal is not endorsed by any member and it is unclear how a dialogue can be established in such case.
“Most members said they needed more time to consult the document internally before engaging in substantive discussions,” said a Geneva-based official.
As per the proposal, developing countries which exported more than 10% of world exports of Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021 are not eligible for the waiver. The proposed solution also limits the product scope to vaccines with a commitment to decide on the extension of the solution to therapeutics and diagnostics within six months from the date of the decision on vaccines.
The proposal also allows eligible members to issue a single authorisation to use the subject matter of multiple patents, export the vaccines and supply to regional or international initiatives such as Covax.
According to sources, several delegations said the proposal is deficient regarding other crucial elements of the Covid-19 response such as therapeutics, diagnostics and transfer of technology, which are equally important to combat the pandemic in a holistic manner.
South Africa favoured a solution-oriented mode to reach an outcome before MC12 by engaging in text-based negotiations.
“It said many members have been demanding for months the waiver request from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19,” the official said.
India and South Africa had in 2020 proposed a comprehensive waiver of certain provisions of copyrights, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information in the TRIPS agreement for available Covid-19 treatments, technology and vaccines to help countries fight the pandemic. The move is now sponsored by 65 WTO members including the 44 countries of the African Group.