PM Modi calls for flexibility in WTO rules on TRIPS waiver for Covid vaccines, reform of WHO


New Delhi, May 12 (UNI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for flexibility in WTO rules related to TRIPS waiver on Covid-19 vaccines and for reform of WHO and streamlining of its approval process for vaccines and therapeutics. In his address at the Second Global COVID Virtual Summit, being hosted by US President Joe Biden, PM Modi said that Covid-19 is continuing to disrupt lives, supply chains, and is testing the resilience of open societies. “It is clear that a coordinated global response is required to combat future health emergencies. We must build a resilient global supply chain and enable equitable access to vaccines and medicines," he urged. “WTO rules, particularly TRIPS need to be more flexible. WHO must be reformed and strengthened to build a more resilient global health security architecture. “We also call for stream-lining WHO's approval process for vaccines and therapeutics to keep supply chains stable and predictable. As a responsible member of the global community, India is ready to play a key role in these efforts,” he said. The PM's comments on TRIPS waiver comes as the TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization last week held discussions on a proposal floated by India, South Africa, the US and the EU to waive certain intellectual property rights like patents to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The PM's comments calling for reform and strengthening of the WHO came as the world health body chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was present at the virtual summit. PM Modi said India has adopted a people-centric strategy against the pandemic and made the highest ever allocation to the nation's annual healthcare budget. He said India's vaccination programme is the largest in the world and India has fully vaccinated almost 90 percent of the adult population, and more than 50 million children. “India manufactures four WHO approved vaccines and has the capacity to produce five billion doses this year,” he added. He said that India supplied over 200 million doses to 98 countries, bilaterally and through COVAX. “India has developed low-cost COVID mitigation technologies for testing, treating and data management. We have offered these capabilities to other countries,” the PM added. The PM said that India's Genomics Consortium has contributed significantly to the global database on the virus. “I am happy to share that we will extend this network to countries in our neighborhood.” India “extensively used our traditional medicines” to supplement the fight against Covid “and to boost immunity, saving countless lives”, the PM stressed. Referring to the foundation stone laying ceremony for the WHO Centre for Traditional Medicine in Gujarat, he said: “Last month, we laid the foundation of ''WHO Centre for Traditional Medicine'' in India, with an aim to make this age-old knowledge available to the World.” The virtual summit is also being attended by heads of state/government of Belize in its capacity as Chair of CARICOM, Senegal as Chair of African Union, Indonesia as President of G20 and Germany as President of G7 respectively. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Director General of World Health Organization and other dignitaries are also participating.