The Fix the Patent Laws Coalition (FTPL) on Thursday welcomed South Africa and India’s proposal of a waiver of all intellectual property relating to coronavirus (Covid-19) diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
FTPL is a group of over 40 organisations working to reform South Africa’s patent laws.
The coalition is also calling on the South African government to publish draft amendments to the Patents Act to facilitate any introduction of diagnostics, medicines and vaccines.
FTPL member and Section27 executive director Umunyana Rugege says while the waiver, by itself, will not lead to access to Covid-19 health technologies, it is important for equitable access.
“We call on all countries to support the proposal to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council for a temporary waiver of all patents on products needed to test, treat or vaccinate against Covid-19, and to act with urgency. Covid-19 is a global health crisis, and one that affects working class and poor people disproportionately. The world needs bold steps such as this that prioritise the needs of vulnerable populations above profits and above nationalism,” she said.
The FTPL is also calling on the South African government to temporarily pause the granting of patents on proven Covid-19-related products and an automatic compulsory licensing of Covid-19 products with existing or pending patents.
The coalition commended South Africa’s leadership role in the African Union and for ensuring that developing and middle-income countries are able to secure deals with pharmaceutical companies.
“This is an important opportunity for countries to stand in solidarity and support the call that would ensure all countries stand to benefit from efforts to fight the pandemic,” said the FTPL.