New measures proposed by WTO to ease restrictions in accessing Covid-19 medicines

The Apex trade body had released an extensive set of restrictions faced by Covid-19 medicines, diagnostic materials and vaccines across countries

  • Money9
  • Publish Date - July 22, 2021 / 04:36 PM IST
New measures proposed by WTO to ease restrictions in accessing Covid-19 medicines
The Apex trade body had released an extensive set of restrictions faced by Covid-19 medicines, diagnostic materials and vaccines across countries

As many countries struggle to get access to Covid-19 medicines and vaccines, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has proposed a set of possible trade-facilitation measures to ease restrictions. The Apex trade body had released an extensive set of restrictions faced by Covid-19 medicines, diagnostic materials, vaccines, fill volumes, and inputs across countries.

Some of these restrictions have not only hit poor countries, but are also acting as a deterrent for  Europe, USA and India in their fight against the deadly pandemic.

However, a few of these restrictions were eased after an intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden who took up the issue as the number of case counts mounted to record levels in India.

Uniform guidelines

The WTO has now said that uniform guidelines that are consistent have to be put in place for medicines, that would enable faster development of drugs and swift movement between countries without any hindrances from varying and conflicting regulatory requirements.

On the vaccine front, the multilateral body has proposed transparent and predictable investment regimes along with bilateral and regional agreements to ease import and export restrictions.

Keeping in mind the unpredictability of the regulatory regime for vaccines, the apex trade body has suggested a series of measures for clearances, including clinical trials and emergency use.

Adding to that, the global trade body also suggested a reduction of timelines for evaluation, approval of medical products and clinical trials and align the requirements globally.

There is also a huge debate brewing at WTO in allowing access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostic aids in poorer countries with India and South Africa suggesting flexibility in the patent regime to enhance supplies.

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