The World Trade Organization said Wednesday it had received a 900,000-signatory petition calling for patents to be lifted on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.
The virtual petition, organised by the global citizen activism group Avaaz, was submitted ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the Council for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
WTO member states were set to continue talks on proposals to waive certain TRIPS obligations concerning the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19.
“Considerable differences remain between members over this proposal,” the Geneva-based global trade body said.
The petition is addressed to all governments, WTO members and pharmaceutical companies.
“We call on you to urgently ensure access to lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment for everyone in the world,” it reads.
“Patents should be lifted, technological knowledge shared freely and openly, and no profiteering allowed during this pandemic.
“Governments, scientists and pharmaceutical companies must cooperate and combine resources to ensure no one is left behind. The pandemic will not be over until it’s over everywhere.”
Laboratories and pharmaceutical firms around the world are racing to produce safe and effective vaccines against the novel coronavirus.
According to the World Health Organization’s overview of different candidate vaccines, 52 have entered human trials, 13 of which have reached final-stage mass testing.
A further 162 candidate vaccines are being developed in laboratories with a view to eventual human testing.