The proposal was moved by India and South Africa at the WTO in October last year

By Yashwant Raj, Washington

UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2021 01:00 AM IST

The Biden administration on Sunday indicated a “way forward” could be found in the coming days on a proposal moved by India and South Africa at the WTO to temporarily waive provisions of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) – such as patents – to Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics to ensure equitable access to them around the world, especially in developing countries.

The “way forward” could include, but may not be restricted to, requiring pharmaceutical companies to supply these Covid-19 related materials “at scale and at cost”.

The Biden administration has been under mounting pressure from its own Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate to “reverse” former president Donald Trump’s opposition to the proposal, which was moved by India and South Africa last October and support it.

Globally, the proposal has acquired the support of 100 countries.

“We believe that the pharmaceutical companies should be supplying at scale and at cost to the entire world so that there is no barrier to everyone getting vaccinated,” Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to President Joe Biden, told ABC news in an interview on Sunday.

“We should have a way forward in the coming days,” he added, pointing to “intensive consultations” that US trade representative Katherine Tai has been engaged in at the WTO to “work through this issue”.

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