The summit is being hosted by China as the Chair for this year.
Vowing to work in solidarity to combat Covid, the leaders reiterated that it is imperative to ensure the availability of safe, efficacious, accessible and affordable diagnostics, medicines, vaccines and essential medical products to people from different countries, especially the developing countries.
They also underlined the need for equitable distribution of vaccines and expeditious vaccination to fill the immunisation gap globally.
“We support the leading role of the WHO in combating the pandemic, as well as acknowledge initiatives such as the COVAX and the ACT-A. We recognise the importance of the discussions in the WTO on relevant IP waiver proposals as well as capacity building and strengthening local production of vaccines and other health tools, especially in developing countries,” the leaders said in the Beijing Declaration of the annual summit.
In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal suggesting a waiver for all the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid.
In May 2021, a revised proposal was submitted by 62 co-sponsors, including India, South Africa and Indonesia.
The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on Intellectual Property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets. A waiver of the provisions related to these rights will help promote manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and other equipment as part of the efforts to contain COVID-19.
In the declaration, the BRICS nations’ leaders stressed the need to continue to strengthen the cooperation on testing methods, therapeutic, research, production and recognition of vaccines, the research on their efficacy and safety in light of new variants of the virus and recognition of the national documents of vaccination against Covid and respective testing, especially for the purpose of international travel.
“We reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism and continue to support World Health Organization (WHO) to play the leading role in the global health governance, while supporting other UN relevant agencies’ activities,” they said.
The BRICS countries also said they will strengthen the technical multilateral cooperation aimed at enhancing capacities in the fields of responding to major public health emergencies, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), vaccine research and development, prevention and therapeutic healthcare and digital health systems.
“We agree to deepen existing cooperation through establishing closer cooperation ties among BRICS health institutions and exploring opportunities for joint collaborative projects in the health sector. We welcome the convening of the BRICS High-Level Forum on Traditional Medicine,” the leaders said.
They stressed that the BRICS countries should be better prepared for Covid and future public health emergencies, and enhance exchanges and cooperation on public health emergency alert, pandemic prevention preparedness and response, and best practices in medical treatment.
“We welcome the virtual launch of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre and commend the ‘Initiative on Strengthening Vaccine Cooperation and Jointly Building a Defensive Line against Pandemic’,” the declaration said.
The leaders also welcomed the participation of other countries, especially emerging markets and developing countries, in the centre to upgrade the capacity for controlling and preventing infectious diseases.
“We support and emphasise the urgent need for the establishment of the BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for preventing mass infectious diseases risks in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005) and the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, and emphasise that BRICS countries should jointly take proactive and effective measures to prevent and reduce the risk of cross-border transmission of infectious diseases and contribute to improving global health,” the declaration said.
The leaders called on international agencies and philanthropists to procure vaccines and boosters from manufacturers in developing countries, including in Africa, to ensure that the manufacturing capabilities being developed are retained.
This is critical to build health system resilience and preparedness for emerging variants of the coronavirus and any future health emergencies, including pandemics, they added.
The two-day (June 23-24) summit is being held under the theme of “Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development”.