THE Bacolod City Council has approved a resolution requesting President Rodrigo Duterte through the office of Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. of the Department of Foreign Affairs to take action for the temporary suspension of certain provisions of the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (IPR) to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The resolution was authored by Councilor Carlos Jose Lopez, chairman of the City Council committee on environment and ecology.

Lopez said in this hyper-connected global community, the Covid-19 pandemic can only be put to an end by vaccination in every country and that addressing vaccine inequality is the key to ending this pandemic.

He said quickly ramping up the volume of vaccine production and achieving universal and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world through the collaboration of all pharmaceutical companies, which requires sharing of technologies necessary for vaccine manufacturing and production, will tackle the problem of vaccine inequality.

“Current system of production and supply is built on monopolies and control over technology and knowledge and is failing to mobilize global production capacity of the vaccines against Covid-19. High-income countries acquired two-thirds of the vaccine supply, accelerating vaccine inequality, and if this continues, we have to wait until 2022 in low and middle-income countries, which should be at least 70 percent of the population to attain herd immunity,” he added.

Lopez noted that intellectual property systems are obstacles in ramping up vaccine production and the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.

He said the best way at the international level to prevent the intellectual property system from becoming an obstacle to the response of Covid-19 would be globally agreed measures regarding international intellectual property norms.

Lopez said on October 2020, over 100 countries, including South Africa and India, jointly proposed a temporary waiver of Sections 1, 4, 7 and 7 of Part II and Sections under Part III of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) Agreement, which covers almost all of the intellectual property rights such as copyright and related rights, industrial design, patent, undisclosed information and their enforcement that can be obstacles to the response of Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the proposal calls for the temporary suspension of the patent system for Covid-19 products until worldwide immunity is achieved. This proposal would give all countries the ability to decide whether to ignore some of the provisions of intellectual property law set out in the Trips Agreement to save lives without fear of sanctions.

“Importantly, it would allow for the necessary expansion and diversification in vaccine supply, allowing manufacturers worldwide to ramp up vaccine production,” he added.

Lope said more than two-thirds of WTO member-states support the waiver proposal.

The Holy See, in its statement dated February 23, 2021, said in many countries, a large number of manufacturing facilities with proven capacity to produce safe and effective vaccines are unable to utilize those capacities due to IP barriers.