Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE
251.   In January 2023 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, pointed out that the COVID-19 response remains hobbled in too many countries, unable to provide vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to those in need. The pandemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. As a populous developing Member with more than 190 million people over 65 years old, China faces large demand for COVID-19 therapeutics. 252.   As Members may be aware, China has recently experienced an intensive outbreak of COVID-19. During that time, people suffered from a severe lack of therapeutics, especially the vulnerable groups. The main reason was that the prices of some widely-recognised oral antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid and molnupiravir, were too high to afford and the amount available was accordingly far from enough. To make things worse, China has been excluded as a potential beneficiary of the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). Therefore, we fully understand the challenges and difficulties faced by the proponents. We believe that to improve accessibility and affordability of diagnostics and therapeutics is crucial for developing Members to combat COVID19 and save more lives. 253.   It is also indispensable for the global effort to ultimately conquer the pandemic. China has always actively participated in the discussions on the issue of the TRIPS waiver and our substantial commitment to the waiver of COVID-19 vaccines safeguarded the successful conclusion of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement at MC12. 254.   For the next step, China calls upon Members to further strengthen solidarity through collective efforts so as to bridge the gaps as early as possible and address the legitimate concerns of developing Members on COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. As always, China will continue to actively engage in future consultations and make our due contribution.
60. The Council so agreed.
56. The Chair recalled that under paragraph 8 of the Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement, adopted on 17 June 2022, Members had agreed to make a decision within six months from adoption, on whether to extend this Decision to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. He also recalled that at the last formal meeting in October – and resumed in December – the Council had recommended to the General Council to extend the deadline for such a decision. The General Council, at its meeting on 19 December 2022, had agreed to this recommendation and resolved to return to the question of the duration of the extension at its next meeting. At its recent meeting on 6-7 March 2023, the General Council had agreed that it would keep the question of the duration of the extension on its agenda again for its next meeting – and that Members would provide updates on where they stand on their internal processes. In the meantime, substantive discussions would continue in the Council for TRIPS. It was against this background, that the item was on the Council's agenda.
57. The representatives of Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; South Africa; Bangladesh, on behalf of the LDC Group; Nepal; Egypt; Kenya, on behalf of the ACP Group; Indonesia; China; India; the United States of America; Brazil; Switzerland; Japan; the United Kingdom; Chinese Taipei; the European Union; Korea, Republic of; Singapore; and Norway took the floor.
58. With respect to next steps, the Chair said that in his experience, Council discussions were most constructive when they were well prepared and took place on the basis of submissions and proposals that Members had been able to study in advance. The 10-day rule for the closing of the Airgram was intended precisely for that purpose, namely, to allow Members to prepare for the items on the agenda, so that discussions at the Council meeting were constructive and focused. The next formal meeting of the Council was scheduled for 14-15 June – and the agenda for that meeting would close on 1 June.
59. Given that his term as Chair ended with the current meeting, he suggested that the new Chair be invited to consult with Members on how best to move forward with work under this agenda item.
60. The Council so agreed.
IP/C/M/107, IP/C/M/107/Add.1