New Delhi: The BRICS grouping endorsed an India-South Africa proposal for patent waivers for Covid-19 vaccines and called for sharing of doses, transfer of technology, and development of vaccine production capacities in order to turn the tide in the fight against the coronavirus disease.
Against the backdrop of the India-China border standoff, members of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping reaffirmed the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and the need to resolve problems through peaceful means.
A virtual meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS states, which was chaired by external affairs minister S Jaishankar, also resolved to combat all forms of terrorism, including cross-border movement of terrorists, terror financing networks, and safe havens.
Jaishankar and his counterparts from the four other countries – China’s Wang Yi, Brazil’s Carlos Alberto Franco França, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, and South Africa’s Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor – focused on the response to the Covid-19 crisis and equitable access to vaccines during their deliberations.
India and South Africa have been pushing for a waiver of patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization (WTO) since last year, and all the BRICS members agreed to support this measure as part of efforts to ensure timely, affordable and equitable access to diagnostics, vaccines, and essential health products and technologies and their components to combat the pandemic.
“The ministers reaffirmed the need to use all relevant measures…including supporting ongoing consideration in WTO on a Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property rights waiver and the use of flexibilities of the TRIPS agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS Agreement and Public Health,” said a joint statement on reforming the multilateral system that was adopted at the meeting.
The ministers reiterated the need for sharing vaccine doses, transfer of technology, development of local production capacities and supply chains for medical products, and promotion of price transparency, and sought “due restraint in the implementation of measures that could hinder the flow of vaccines, health products, and essential inputs”. They also called for timely operationalization of the BRICS vaccine research and development center.
Though there was no official word on whether the India-China standoff figured in the discussions, Jaishankar said in his opening remarks that Brics strives for an inclusive and equitable multipolar international system that respects the territorial integrity of all states. (Hindustan Times)