WIPO Statement on IP & COVID-19 at July 20 TRIPS Council

July 20, 2021

On July 20, WIPO’s External Relations Division Director Dalila Hamou delivered the following statement to the TRIPS Council.

Good morning/afternoon Chair and Distinguished Delegates,

The global pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe.  While the threat is coming under control in some countries, many others continue to suffer the full force of the pandemic.

Winning the battle against COVID-19 is the world’s most pressing and immediate challenge.  Finding ways to secure global vaccine production to overcome global vaccine shortages is central to that endeavor.  Let us not forget that no one is safe until we are all safe.

Human ingenuity offers great hope.  Over the last year, we have witnessed the fastest development and deployment of vaccines in history.  The anticipated ramp up in COVID-19 vaccine production over the coming months promises to bring total production to some 11 billion doses by year-end.  While this is very good news, there is still much to do to ensure that these life-saving vaccines reach all communities in every part of the world.

Beyond overcoming the pandemic, we also need to come together to support countries as they lay the foundations for a post-COVID recovery.  Harnessing the innovative and creative capacities of our people, and building a balanced and effective global IP ecosystem to support these efforts, will be key to building back better. 

While the important discussions in this forum are proceeding, WIPO is committed to taking measures to support our common goal of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and other health technologies.  But the challenge ahead is complex and multi-faceted, and requires concerted action across agencies.

This is why we are very pleased that the trilateral cooperation with the WHO and WTO has been stepped up.  Last month, the Directors-General of WIPO, WHO and WTO met to map out further collaboration to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and other pressing challenges at the intersection of public health, IP and trade.

The teams from all three agencies have since been working hard to concretize these aspirations.

We have agreed to organize a series of capacity-building workshops to enhance the flow of updated information on current pandemic-related development and responses to achieve equitable access to COVID-19 health technologies.  Scheduled for September, the first workshop will focus on technology transfer and licensing.

We further agreed to implement a joint gateway for tripartite technical assistance to support countries in assessing, prioritizing and responding to unmet needs for COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and related technologies.  Work on this is still ongoing and further details will be shared in due course.

While the Trilateral work is proceeding apace, solely at the WIPO front, last week Director General Daren Tang announced a package of COVID-19 services and measures to support Member States as they overcome the pandemic and rebuild. 

The package covers five areas in which WIPO has significant experience and expertise, namely, Policy and Legislative Assistance; Technical Assistance and Capacity Building; Innovation Support and Technology Transfer; and IP Dispute Resolution and Knowledge Resources. Full details can be found on our website and via WIPO’s COVID-19 Related Services and Support page.

The package complements other long-standing WIPO pandemic-response measures, such as the COVID-19 Policy Tracker and our work in support of an enabling environment for tech transfer and licensing.  In fact, today, we are holding a workshop on The Role of Knowledge Transfer Policies, which is the first in a series of seminars focused on Innovation in the Time of COVID-19.

Dear Chair, Dear Delegates,

WIPO has been a longstanding Observer at the proceedings of this august Council, and we are following the important deliberations of WTO member governments on COVID-19-related proposals in the TRIPS Council very closely.  And we stand ready to provide legal and technical assistance in line with Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement, and Article 4 of the WIPO-WTO Agreement.

We look forward to working with our key partners around the globe to support collective efforts to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end and to build back in a more inclusive and sustainable way.

WIPO also wishes to thank you, Chair, for your tireless efforts in building consensus to achieve these shared goals.

Thank you, Chair, Distinguished Delegates, for your attention.