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The WTO faces a make or break week over vaccines | Larry Elliott

A ruling on whether or not to waive patent rules will this week show if the trade body is for the world or the west

A crisis at the World Trade Organization has been brewing for years and it now looks like coming to a head. There are many potential flash points as trade ministers assemble for talks in Geneva this week but in the end they boil down to a single issue: vaccines.

Put simply, the WTO’s members need to decide whether they are going to waive patent protection for Covid-19 treatments developed in the west so that poorer countries can manufacture their own lower-cost vaccines. What the meeting ought to do is come up with a meaningful agreement covering the waiving of patent rules not just for the current but any future pandemic. If it does so, the WTO will live to fight another day. All the other vexatious issues – and there are plenty of them – will be fudged or kicked down the road.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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