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More than 100 advocacy groups from dozens of countries are urging the World Trade Organization council to extend an exemption in a trade deal governing intellectual property rights so that low-income countries can more easily obtain drugs and vaccines, a concern that has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At issue are certain provisions of a WTO agreement known as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, which governs patent rights. Low-income countries were twice granted extensions that allow them to take certain actions, such as sidestepping patents, so that lower-cost generics can be manufactured. The goal was to give their economies additional time to expand.

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