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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

TRIPS Waiver and Equitable Access to COVID vaccines

Start Date: 11/10/2021 11:00 AM EST
End Date: 11/10/2021 12:00 PM EST

Venue Name: Virtual

Organization Name: WIIT

Mary Simpkins
Email: info@wiit.org
Phone: (202) 869-3775

In October 2020 India along with South Africa introduced a proposal at the WTO seeking a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights over COVID-19 vaccines as a solution to enable access to life-saving vaccines to the developing and least-developed world. While supported by a number of WTO members including more recently the United States, the proposal has met with resistance from the Australia, European Union, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom who state that existing flexibilities within the TRIPS Agreement provide a more pragmatic solution. Please join WIIT and our panel of experts as we delve deeper into this important debate to understand the operation of a potential waiver under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the nature of patents on drugs and vaccines, issues around manufacturing capacity in developing countries, equitable access to vaccines and finally, the role of the WTO in facilitating a solution to the issue.


  • Jayashree Watal, former Counsellor in the Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division, World Trade Organization
  • Madhavi Sunder, Associate Dean for Graduate & International Programs and Professor of Law Georgetown University Law Center
  • Elissa Alben, Senior Director and Lead, Global Trade Policy, Pfizer Inc.

Moderated by Moushami Joshi, Attorney, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP


Jayashree Watal retired from the Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division of the World Trade Organization in mid-2019. She contributed inter alia to work on TRIPS and public health, Patents, Undisclosed information, Economics of TRIPS, IP and Transfer of Technology, and IP and Competition Policy. She assisted the then Director of the Intellectual Property Division on the negotiations that led up to the adoption of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in November 2001; the interim waiver solution in August 2003; and the Protocol on the amendment that resulted in a new article 31bis in December 2005. 

She currently holds the position of Honorary Professor at the National Law University, Delhi since August 2019 and has been a part-time Adjunct Professor position at the Georgetown University Law Centre since 2009, teaching a course on International Trade, Intellectual Property and Public Health every year. She has been a member of the Governance Board of the Medicines Patent Pool, a non-profit organization based in Geneva for six years up to June 2021. She holds several part-time consulting positions to assist on TRIPS-related issues.

Ms. Watal holds post-graduate degrees in both law and economics and, prior to joining the WTO, has had more than twenty-two years of experience in government in India.  She represented India at a crucial stage in the Uruguay Round TRIPS negotiations from 1989-90, contributing substantially to the development of the text. She is the co-editor of three WTO books: A Handbook on the TRIPS Agreement, (Cambridge University Press, 2012/2021); The Making of the TRIPS Agreement, (WTO, 2015); and Trade in Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 2021-forthcoming). She has authored a book Intellectual Property Rights in the WTO and Developing Countries (Oxford University Press, India and Kluwer Law International, 2001) and several peer-reviewed journal articles on issues related to the law/economics of intellectual property rights.

Madhavi Sunder is Associate Dean for Graduate & International Programs and Professor of Law Georgetown University Law Center. She is a leading scholar of law and culture. She was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2006 and has been a Visiting Professor of Law at the Yale Law School, the University of Chicago Law School, and Cornell Law School. Her work traverses numerous legal fields, from intellectual property to human rights law and the First Amendment. Professor Sunder has published articles in the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the California Law Review, the Texas Law Review, and Law and Contemporary Problems, among others. Her book, From Goods to a Good Life: Intellectual Property and Global Justice, was published by Yale University Press in 2012.

Elissa leads Pfizer’s Global Trade Policy team and is responsible for overseeing the development and execution of trade policy across all major markets in which Pfizer operates.  Prior to joining Pfizer, Elissa served as senior trade counsel for Senate Finance Committee Democrats, responsible for Asia-Pacific trade negotiations, environment, labor, and investment matters, as well as negotiating and securing Congressional passage of trade promotion authority.  Before joining the Finance Committee, Elissa spent nearly eight years in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, where she served as Deputy Assistant USTR for Enforcement and Monitoring and chief lawyer for U.S. trade agreements, including the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and represented the United States in disputes before the World Trade Organization.  Prior to her government service, Elissa practiced international trade law at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, DC.  Elissa received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, concentrating in East Asian Studies, and her law degree from Columbia Law School.

Moushami advises sovereign governments and private clients in all aspects of international trade law with an emphasis on trade remedies and WTO disputes, law and policy. Moushami advises clients including sovereign governments on domestic trade remedy proceedings including trade remedy litigation before the Court of International Trade, WTO disputes and works on FCPA compliance issues. She has practiced for several years in India and in that capacity, represented and advised the Government of India in WTO disputes and exporters and importers in Indian trade remedy cases spanning a number of industries such as rubber chemicals, solar cells, capital and telecom equipment and pharmaceuticals. Moushami is the Co-VP of Programming and Co-chair of the WTO Section at the Association of Women in International Trade. She is admitted to practice in New York, Washington, DC and India.

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Registration is Closed
Closed: 11/10/2021 11:30 AM

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