The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Oxfam Reaction to Potential WTO Trips Waiver Compromise


In response to reports of a potential compromise agreed by the EU, South Africa, India, and the US for a waiver of intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines, Max Lawson, Head of Inequality Policy for Oxfam and co-chair of the People's Vaccine Alliance, made the following statement:

"After almost 18 months of stalling and millions of deaths, the EU has climbed down and finally admitted that intellectual property rules and pharmaceutical monopolies are a barrier to vaccinating the world. This is a tribute to millions of campaigners across the world who have demanded a Peoples Vaccine.

"However, this leaked proposal is not the comprehensive TRIPS waiver demanded by over 100 governments. Unless it is significantly improved, it will not do enough to bring an end to vaccine apartheid and ensure access for all.

"As it stands, this proposal seems to do little to address patents beyond the existing flexibilities in the TRIPS agreement. It ignores other intellectual property barriers like trade secrets which stand in the way of vaccine manufacturers. And by focusing only on vaccines and kicking the issue of COVID-19 treatments into the long grass, it will leave lifesaving treatments out of reach for millions.

"In a crisis, half measures are not acceptable. Every barrier to accessing these crucial vaccines and treatments must be cleared away. We urge member states to return to the negotiating table and come back with a comprehensive waiver that will work to cut short this pandemic and guarantee everyone is protected."

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. We help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters.