Leaked Draft WTO COVID Text Would Not Improve Access to Vaccines, Altogether Excludes Treatments and Tests

March 15, 2022 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement in response to reports regarding text related to negotiations on WTO intellectual property barriers that block global access to needed supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.

“Absent substantial improvements, the current approach would fail President Biden’s righteous mission of increasing access to vaccines to end the COVID crisis,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Rethink Trade at the American Economic Liberties Project. “It seems to represent the lowest common denominator of EU fealty to Big Pharma by not waiving intellectual property monopolies and the U.S. insistence that only vaccines be considered despite the new lifesaving treatments that President Biden spotlights as critical to dealing with COVID. It sounds like the demand for a waiver of IP barriers limiting COVID medicine access led by South Africa and India and supported by the US and 70 other countries is being crushed by Big Pharma and their advocates in Europe.”

“Instead of a waiver, it sounds like a reiteration of existing WTO rules for patent compulsory licensing that is widely considered to be unsuited to the COVID mission and that fails to cover most forms of IP at all. Once text becomes public, we will see if the new cumbersome conditions to compulsory licensing previously proposed by the EU remain,” added Wallach.

To learn more, see a recent Rethink Trade event “Taking on Big Pharma Monopolies to End the Pandemic.”

Learn more about Economic Liberties and Rethink Trade here



The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.