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Biden calls for intellectual property rights to be waived on vaccines

Biden calls for intellectual property rights to be waived on vaccines

Reiterating the need for a global Covid-19 vaccine, American President Joe Biden called for all nations attending the MC12 World Trade Organisation summit in Geneva next week to agree on waiving intellectual property rights on vaccines. The move from America comes in the wake of the discovery of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 in South Africa and other countries.

"The news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations," Biden said in a statement. "This news today reiterates the importance of moving on this (waiving intellectual property protections) quickly."

However the World Trade Organisation announced that it would postpone the ministerial meeting in Geneva after an emergency meeting on Friday. Alternative arrangements would be made and the meeting would be made as soon as circumstances allowed said General Council Chair Dacio Castillo.

The conference was cancelled following travel bans to and from southern Africa, including South Africa, Botswana and eSwatini which would make it difficult for delegates to attend.

"This has not been an easy recommendation to make … But as Director-General, my priority is the health and safety of all MC12 participants – ministers, delegates and civil society. It is better to err on the side of caution," WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a WTO statement.

The MC12 conference at WTO headquarters in Geneva was set to take up key issues like a long-awaited agreement on subsidies for fisheries, seen as a major way to prevent overfishing in the world's seas, and an effort to waive patent and other intellectual property protections linked to COVID-19 vaccines. It was slated to run from November 30 - December 3.

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TAGS:Covid-19 vaccine america WTO Omicron 
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