Ramaphosa again calls for suspension of intellectual property waiver on vaccines

President Cyril Ramaphosa has raised the matter again at the WTO, saying a waiver was urgent if the world was to save millions of lives.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramphosa has again called for the suspension of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines to bridge the huge gap in vaccination rates worldwide.

He was speaking at the opening of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Public Forum on Tuesday held under the theme: "Trade beyond COVID-19: building resilience".

The two-day meeting has been looking at the effects of the pandemic and how the system can help in future crises.

India and South Africa were the first countries last year to propose the intellectual property waiver before the WTO, but there's still been no movement.

Lobbyists said the temporary removal of rights would boost production in developing countries.

Ramaphosa has raised the matter again at the WTO, saying a waiver was urgent if the world was to save millions of lives.

“The WTO has a central role in addressing trade, and intellectual property related barriers to boost and diversify production of vaccines, diagnostics, as well as therapeutics,” he said.

Ramaphosa said unequal access to vaccines presented a huge risk to a sustained global recovery: “We therefore need to reaffirm the principle of global solidarity.”

Pressure has been mounting for an accord ahead of the 12th ministerial conference of the WTO in November.

WATCH: President Ramaphosa calls for equal access to vaccines at World Health Assembly

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