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China makes significant contributions to WTO waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents

Updated: Jun 21, 2022 Xinhua Print
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Employees work on a vaccine production line of CanSino in Tianjin. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

China has played a constructive role in the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to facilitate a major decision on the waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, an official with the Ministry of Commerce said on June 20.

Due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing members will be authorized to produce COVID-19 vaccines without the consent of the right holder for five years, according to the decision made at the WTO's Ministerial Conference Twelfth Session (MC12) from June 12 to 17 in Geneva, Switzerland.

At a pivotal stage of MC12 negotiations, China, as a major producer and a supplier of COVID-19 vaccines, announced that it will forego the flexibility of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on COVID-19 vaccines, the official said.

Developing members enjoy larger flexibility on the implementation of authorization, notification obligation and provision of appropriate remuneration to the right holders.

The move shows China's sense of responsibility as a major country, the official said, adding that it laid a foundation for the final MC12 outcomes.

China announced on May 2020 that it would make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good in order to ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability in the developing world. By far, the country has provided over 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, according to the official.

The important achievement made at MC12 will play a vital role in bridging the global vaccine gaps and improving the vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries, the official noted.

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