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A controversial proposal for the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive intellectual property rights and provide greater access to Covid-19 medical products appears unlikely to pass, according to people tracking the latest round of meetings at the global agency.

Despite a year-long debate, disagreement remains on the fundamental question of whether a waiver is appropriate and the most effective way to tackle inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, according to a trade official who is based in Geneva, Switzerland, where talks are being held. The WTO needs consensus from all of its 164 members for the proposal to be adopted.


The development is hardly surprising. Efforts to find a consensus stalled in recent weeks despite an upcoming WTO General Council meeting set to begin next week and a Ministerial Conference set for the end of the month. Talks have not been constructive, according to representatives from India, which co-sponsored the proposal with South Africa. A status report will be submitted to the General Council anyway.

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