WTO Director-General put forward the outcome document that emerged from the informal process for an intellectual property response to COVID-19.
The four main parties (the EU, India, South Africa and the U.S.) to negotiations on an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines have prepared an "outcome document" for approval by the broader membership, the WTO said on Tuesday, May 3. A final deal is expected by June.
WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has made vaccine equity her top priority since taking office in 2021, has been working for months to broker a compromise between the members of the Quad to break an 18-month-long impasse.
"What the discussions were aiming at was coming up with something workable," Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters, saying she hoped the WTO's 164 members would finalise and approve the proposal by a major conference in June.
"This will advance the discussion and dialogue. For the next pandemic or a flare up of this one, this is hugely important,"
The document showed that there were still unresolved areas in the draft deal, including on the duration of the waiver's application which could be either three or five years.
Okonjo-Iweala said recent negotiations had focused on getting broader support for the deal, including from China. She said Beijing had indicated it was "favourably disposed" to being considered as a developed country in this deal and thus subject to stricter rules.