Policy discussions and actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Below we’ve provided a round-up of recent developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Policymakers are working to identify and execute the best policies for pandemic preparedness and healthcare delivery, against a difficult backdrop. Innovators and other actors must step forward to provide their insights and experiences on the ground, whether in relation to IP, trade, regulatory or other types of policies.

African Union backs call to waive IP rights on COVID-19 drugs

The African Union is backing calls for drugmakers to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries.

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Senator calls on Biden to reject COVID IP waiver

Thom Tillis, ranking member of the senate IP subcommittee, has urged US president Joe Biden to oppose ‘harmful’ proposals to waive rights related to COVID-19 vaccines currently in discussions at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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U.S. Chamber opposes WTO waiver of vaccine intellectual property rights

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it opposed calls for the World Trade Organization to back a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights to speed coronavirus vaccine production in poor countries, calling them “misguided”.

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U.S. Extends Tariff Exclusion on China Virus Supplies 6 Months

The U.S. is extending exclusions on tariffs for face masks, cleaning supplies and other personal protective equipment from China for six months, providing protection against higher costs as the nation fights the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move affects 99 different products, according to a draft of the notice by the U.S. Trade Representative seen by Bloomberg News. The exclusions, extended in December, will now run through the end of September 2021.

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UNCTAD Paper Examines Linkages Between Non-Tariff Measures and SDGs

According to this paper, of all the NTMs adopted in response to the pandemic, almost 60 per cent were put in place to ensure adequate and affordable domestic supplies of medical goods and other essential items to combat the virus.

To minimize potential adverse impacts on trade and sustainability, the paper recommends policymakers first consider whether an NTM is needed or whether there are alternatives, then design high-quality NTMs where they are needed and implement them strategically with full transparency to inform other countries and the private sector of the measure.

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EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Implications for Life Sciences Companies

The widely anticipated EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the Agreement) came into effect on 1 January 2021 after several difficult months of negotiations. The Agreement aims to ease trade barriers resulting from the UK leaving the EU and includes positive developments for life sciences companies. However, according to this article, the Agreement does not address all of the concerns raised by the life sciences industry, and significant gaps and areas for further discussion remain between the EU and the UK as the Agreement is implemented. This Client Alert from 03 March 2021 sets out key aspects of the Agreement for life sciences companies.

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