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Statement by the United States – Formal Meeting at the WTO TRIPS Council
June 9, 2021

Proposal for a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 

As Delivered by Chargé D’Affaires David Bisbee 

Geneva, June 9, 2021  

Thank you, Chair.

We wish to thank South Africa, India, and the other proponents of Document IP/C/W/669.Rev1 for their presentation today and for their remarks.

As we have indicated consistently, including at the informal meeting on May 28, our top priority is saving lives and ending the pandemic in the United States and around the world.

It is our aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.  The United States is continuing to ramp up its efforts – working with the private sector and all possible partners – to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution.

Just last week, President Biden announced a U.S. commitment to share a total of 80 million doses by the end of June.

This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.

The United States believes strongly in intellectual property protections. But we must do what is necessary to accelerate manufacturing and equitable distribution of vaccines.

In the view of the United States, the WTO must show that it can step up in a global crisis and act efficiently to improve the lives of ordinary people.  We must all come together to find a solution expeditiously, especially as the pandemic continues to spread with new variants.

As noted in our May 5 announcement, the United States has endorsed initiating a process at the WTO.  We have not prejudged an outcome.

While we are still reviewing the revised proposal, our initial reaction is that it is a relatively modest change.  While we recognize it is not for the proponents to negotiate with themselves, it is a shared responsibility to find common ground and to respond to the issues raised by other Members, and time is of the essence.

In our view, the most expeditious pathway toward consensus would be to focus our efforts on what actions might be needed to address the supply and distribution of vaccines specifically.  For our efforts to have an immediate effect, a revised scope for discussion seems the most promising next step.

We recognize that the consensus-based nature of the WTO and the complexity of the issues involved mean that this will be a time-consuming process.  Therefore, it is imperative that we focus our efforts in the areas that are most likely to lead to acceptance by others as quickly as possible.

We continue to hope our support for engaging in a text-based discussion will spur additional proposals or ideas to be put on the table.

We are glad to see we are making progress toward a process at the WTO on these issues and thank the EU for its recent submission.

We would welcome hearing whether there is consensus to have open and honest conversations about what can be done in this space.  We continue to encourage others to step forward with something to which they can say yes.