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Amid mounting pressure to widen global access to Covid-19 vaccines, the head of the World Trade Organization laid out a series of steps that should be taken by vaccine makers, which have resisted a proposal that has spurred debate over intellectual property rights.

In remarks at the end of a meeting on Wednesday, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she expects the vaccine makers to “advance negotiations” on the proposal, which would temporarily waive a provision in a trade agreement and more readily transfer the necessary technology and know-how so that vaccines could be manufactured by other companies.


The proposal, which was made last fall by South Africa and India, would make it easier for countries that permit compulsory licensing to allow a manufacturer to export vaccines. But the pharmaceutical industry argues intellectual property is not a barrier to increased production and points to a growing number of licensing deals between vaccine makers and companies in other countries as evidence.

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