[WSMDiscuss] (Fwd) 23 Feb new D-Day for vaccine/treatment waiver at TRIPS Re: more critique of Covid-19 vaccine/treatment IP imperialism Re: Covid-19 vaccine/treatment apartheid endorsed at WTO today, damn it

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Thu Feb 11 08:19:54 CET 2021

(There's been so little coverage of that setback in Geneva last Thursday 
- and of the next opportunity to reverse it, on Feb 23. In South Africa, 
I can't find much mention at all, including from politicians who are 
directing a bit of their anti-imperialist rhetoric via the African 
Union. Most news concerns our Oxford-AstraZeneca belated-yet-overhyped 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMvoH76tAX0> vaccine acquisition crisis 
- should we use that dud or sell it ... or demand the money back from 
the Serum Institute. It's utterly debilitating, and along with inclement 
J&J production at the price-gauging Aspen factory, seen as the main 
vaccine news worthy of public discussion. Maybe the presidency, press 
corps, NGOs, social movements and medical experts are somehow 
embarrassed to be openly fighting Biden, BoJo, Brussels and Bolsonaro 
for the kind of global fix that was won at the WTO in 2001 for AIDS 

     Highlights below:

  * to her credit, the ultra-neoliberal
    incoming WTO Director General, if next week's election goes
    according to plan - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – is taking a "cautiously"
    progressive stance on vaccine and treatment access, though WHO head
    is much tougher about the contradictions;
  * while I've just found a comprehensive-looking newsletter -
    https://www.internationalhealthpolicies.org/newsletter/ and see
    below - you can't get better info on this topic than from Jomo KS
    and Anis Chowdhury, e.g. /"With only 16% of the world’s population,
    high income countries have secured 60% of available doses.
    Meanwhile, the African Union has only procured 670 million for the
    continent’s 1.3 billion people"; and
  * the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
    Rights, Solomon Dersso, is advancing radical analysis in an
    institution known for buckling to Western whims, so more power to him:

            /This “artificial scarcity”, to use the //apt description
            World Health Organisation’s chief Tedros Ghebreyesus, has
            mostly to do with the market-based approach to the
            production of and access to the vaccine, from which the
            pharmaceutical industry and those dominating the existing
            global economic system benefit the most... The estimated
            cost is $9.1-billion. Considering that the Covax facility is
            set to deliver 20% of the required vaccine doses, Africa
            currently faces a funding gap of $6.1-billion. After the
            work done by the AVATT, two avenues of financing were
            presented. The first involves a total of $5-billion to be
            made available from the World Bank. The other is the two
            funding mechanisms proposed by African Export-Import Bank
            (Afrexim Bank) namely, commitment by Afrexim Bank of up to
            $3-billion to guarantee Africa CDC’s vaccine order for
            payment upon delivery and funds to be sourced from capital
            markets via a proposed //vaccine bond
            to raise about $3-billion. It is clear that this strategy is
            premised on the market-based approach to the production and
            acquisition of the vaccine. Its point of departure is
            accepting the prevailing power relations that are skewed in
            favour of the pharma industry and countries housing those
            producing the vaccine doses./)

  Intellectual Property Cause of Death, Genocide

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram 
<https://www.ipsnews.net/author/jomo-kwame-sundaram/> and Anis Chowdhury 


KUALA LUMPUR and SYDNEY, Feb 9 2021 (IPS) - Refusal to temporarily 
suspend several World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property 
(IP) provisions to enable much faster and broader progress in addressing 
the COVID-19 pandemic should be grounds for International Criminal Court 
prosecution for genocide.

Making life-saving vaccines, medicines and equipment available, freely 
or affordably, has been crucial for containing the spread of many 
infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, polio and smallpox.

Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine, insisted that it remain 
patent free. Asked who owned the patent 65 years ago, he replied 
“The people I would say. There is no patent. You might as well ask, 
could you patent the sun?”

*Intellectual property induced scarcity*
However, cross-border enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) 
is relatively recent. The 1994 WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of 
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) greatly strengthened and extended 
IP transnationally. IPRs have effectively denied access to patented 
formulas and processes except to the highest bidders.

Recognising the extent of the pandemic threat, vaccine developers expect 
to be very profitable 
thanks to national and transnational IP laws. Thus, IP has distorted 
research priorities and discouraged cooperation and knowledge sharing, 
so essential to progress.

As COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise alarmingly, rich 
countries are falling out among themselves, fighting for access to 
vaccine supplies, as IP profits take precedence over lives and livelihoods.

‘Vaccine nationalism 
involves cut-throat contests responding to scarcity due to limited 
output. Facing vaccine wars, multilateral arrangements, such as Covax 
<http://www.ipsnews.net/2021/02/road-hell-paved-good-intentions/>, have 
not adequately addressed current challenges.

Vaccine nationalism has also meant that among the rich, the powerful – 
Trump’s US – came first. Consequently, most developing countries and 
most of their people will have to wait longer than necessary for 
vaccines, while the powerful and better off secure prior access, 
regardless of need or urgency.

*Lethal combination*
This lethal combination of IP and vaccine warfare is responsible for 
more avoidable losses of both lives and livelihoods. Developing nations, 
especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have been left far behind 
even in most programmes for COVID-19 prevention, containment, treatment 
and vaccination.

The deadly duo are unnecessarily delaying the end of the pandemic, 
causing avoidable infections, deaths and related setbacks. World Health 
Organization (WHO) Director-General (DG) Tedros warns 
“the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure…the price of 
this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s 
poorest countries”.

He advises that “the international community cannot allow a handful of 
companies to dictate the terms or the timeframe for ending the 
pandemic”; “vaccine nationalism combined with a restrictive approach to 
vaccine production is in fact more likely to prolong the pandemic … 
tantamount to medical malpractice on a global scale”.

While over 39 million vaccine doses had been given in 49 richer 
countries, only 25 doses had reached one poor country! At current rates, 
more than 85 poor countries will not have 
significant access before the end of 2023! In 70 lower income countries, 
only one in ten <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-55709428> will be 

Of the 7.2 billion 
confirmed sales of COVID-19 vaccine doses, 4.2 billion have gone to the 
wealthiest nations. With only 16% of the world’s population, high income 
countries have secured 60% of available doses. Meanwhile, the African 
Union has only procured 670 million for the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

*Public health exception*
Following strong advocacy led by South African President Mandela, a 2001 
WTO Declaration 
on TRIPS and Public Health affirmed countries’ right to protect public 
health by enabling access to medicines, even without a health emergency.

  * Intellectual Property Monopolies Block Vaccine Access
  * Caught in Tangled Web of Vaccine Nationalism
  * Road to Hell Paved with Good Intentions
  * West First Policies Expose Myths

Although TRIPS now allows such government public health efforts, 
developing countries remain constrained 
<https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/3/13-128413/en/> by compulsory 
licensing’s complex rules, procedures and conditions. Threats and 
inducements by transnational corporations and their governments limit 
its use.

Hence, use of compulsory licensing by developing countries 
<https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001154> has been largely limited 
to several more independent middle-income countries and HIV/AIDS medicines.

*TRIPS waiver *
The TRIPS waiver proposal to the WTO – led by South Africa and India – 
seeks temporary suspension of several TRIPS provisions to greatly scale 
up production of and access to COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and 
equipment to contain the contagion.

The Trump administration, the European Union (EU) and their allies have 
so far blocked the waiver 
proposal, although its measures are allowed by their own national laws 
Some rich countries 
even increased 
such provisions with the pandemic.

South African TRIPS negotiator Mustaqeem Da Gama has debunked the waiver 
opponents’ claim 
<https://wp.twnnews.net/sendpress/email/?sid=NjEyNzQ&eid=Mjg2NA> that 
even if “approved tomorrow, there are no companies in the developing 
world that can produce any number of products relevant to COVID-19, 
including mRNA vaccines”.

In fact, the Serum Institute of India 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serum_Institute_of_India> is acknowledged 
as the only facility in the world with the mass vaccine production 
capacity to rapidly greatly scale up output. Furthermore, 72 of the 154 
vaccines ‘pre-qualified’ by the WHO are already being manufactured in 
developing countries.

Such production in developing countries is subject to very restrictive 
IP regulations and licensing agreements with stringent conditions. 
Hence, existing capacity in India, China, Brazil, Cuba, Thailand, 
Senegal and Indonesia, among others, remains underutilised, primarily 
due to such legal barriers.

*IP main barrier*
Despite growing support for the waiver, the proposal was rejected by the 
TRIPS Council on 4th February. The EU insists that IP will “ensure the 
publication and dissemination of research results, when otherwise they 
will remain secret”.

But everyone knows the IP system discourages, rather than encourages 
cooperation and sharing, both essential for accelerating progress. 
Although IP requires sharing research results, no vaccine developer has 
done so yet. Nonetheless, waiver opponents insist the system is working 

Rich countries opposing the waiver have quietly, even secretly bought up 
vaccines. Even as the EU has lost vaccine wars despite furthering 
pharmaceutical company interests, it has claimed the moral high ground 
as a major Covax donor. The recent EU export authorisation scheme, 
restricting exports, is bound to trigger retaliatory restrictions by others.

Incredibly, rich countries opposed to the TRIPS waiver proposal, 
particularly the EU, now want WTO members to instead accept its trade 
and health initiative for further trade liberalisation and removal of 
export restrictions –to address a problem of its own making!

*Biden can still lead*
The Biden administration has shown renewed commitment to multilateralism 
by rejoining the WHO, but still needs to offer leadership beyond funding 
the ineffective Covax 
scheme and lifting Trump’s embargo on exports of vaccines, vital 
medicines and equipment.

One ‘people’s vaccine’ proposal 
involves sharing research results in return for public financing. This 
can affordably, quickly and greatly scale up generic production, 
enabling ‘vaccines for all’ in the world at little additional cost.

As rich country governments have already spent to accelerate vaccine 
development, they can make this happen. As vaccine developers do not 
expect to profit much from the poor, this will benefit many at little 
added expense.

Depriving and delaying vaccines for those with less means has to be seen 
for what it is. Such avoidable behaviour is, frankly, nothing less than 
genocidal, for causing many people to die needlessly for IP profit.

At the forthcoming 23 February TRIPS Council meeting, US President Biden 
can secure consensus support for the waiver proposal, thus providing the 
Rooseveltian leadership internationally that he seems to be emulating in 
the US.



  African Union wants vaccine patent waiver

Solomon Dersso <https://mg.co.za/author/solomon-dersso/>
10 Feb 2021
Union wants vaccine patent 


It may not have been a leading headline, but one notable aspect of the 
34th summit of the African Union (AU) assembly, held from 6-7 February, 
was its focus on the response to Covid-19. Although the election of the 
leadership of the AU Commission attracted much of the media attention, 
the gravity of the pandemic was not lost on the participants of the 

As the outgoing chairperson of the AU, South African President Cyril 
Ramaphosa observed in his opening address 
Covid-19 “is not only a severe health emergency, it is also a grave 
economic and social crisis”.

As the report on the pandemic submitted to the summit rightly notes, 
“the only way in which we can prevent Covid-19 transmission and deaths 
while at the same time protecting African economies and societies is to 
successfully immunise a critical mass of the African population with 
safe and efficacious Covid-19 vaccines”.

Africa will need 1.5-billion doses in order to vaccinate 60% of its 
population — the estimated minimum requirement for achieving “herd 

Yet, there is increasing public concern across the continent that 
Africa’s path to equitable access to the vaccine is very narrow. The 
current supply of vaccines is very limited.

As South Africa’s foreign affairs minister Naledi Pandor pointed out 
in her opening address to the ministers’ meeting during the summit, the 
economically well-off countries of the north have “purchased the largest 
stock, while we in Africa are struggling to get our fair share”. Thus 
countries with only 16% of the world’s population 
<https://www.bbc.com/news/world-55795297> have bought up 60% of the 
world’s vaccine supply.

This “artificial scarcity”, to use the apt description 
of World Health Organisation’s chief Tedros Ghebreyesus, has mostly to 
do with the market-based approach to the production of and access to the 
vaccine, from which the pharmaceutical industry and those dominating the 
existing global economic system benefit the most.

The result is that Africa is once again at the tail end of the queue, 
this time for access to the vaccine.

So, what is the AU’s plan for avoiding the imminent risk of Africa being 
left behind in Covid-19 vaccination? What new measures have been adopted?

The AU, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC), has 
developed a vaccine development and access strategy, endorsed by the 
AU’s bureau of heads of state and government in August 2020. Although 
this is good, the strategy covers only three areas: to accelerate 
African involvement in the clinical development of the vaccine; to 
access a sufficient share of the global supply; and to remove barriers 
to widespread delivery and uptake of the vaccine.

In pursuit of access, Ramaphosa established the Covid-19 African Vaccine 
Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) on 7 November 2020 to accelerate funds for 
procurement and delivery of the vaccine doses.

The estimated cost is $9.1-billion. Considering that the Covax facility 
is set to deliver 20% of the required vaccine doses, Africa currently 
faces a funding gap of $6.1-billion.

After the work done by the AVATT, two avenues of financing were 
presented. The first involves a total of $5-billion to be made available 
from the World Bank. The other is the two funding mechanisms proposed by 
African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) namely, commitment by Afrexim 
Bank of up to $3-billion to guarantee Africa CDC’s vaccine order for 
payment upon delivery and funds to be sourced from capital markets via a 
proposed vaccine bond 
issued to raise about $3-billion.

It is clear that this strategy is premised on the market-based approach 
to the production and acquisition of the vaccine. Its point of departure 
is accepting the prevailing power relations that are skewed in favour of 
the pharma industry and countries housing those producing the vaccine 

There are several issues with this approach. It adds an enormous debt 
burden on African economies at a time when these economies are battered 
by the consequences of the pandemic.

Equally, it does not address the structural issues limiting Africa’s 
path to equitable access to the vaccine. Such an approach shies away 
from including access to the technological know-how of the vaccine for 
the generic production and distribution of the vaccine on the African 

Significantly, it is premised on treating the pandemic as an ordinary 
event whose solution is to be achieved through ordinary market-based 
approaches. As a global pandemic of unprecedented nature and 
consequences, a most crucial approach is to have the vaccine against 
Covid-19 as a global public good 

For some months the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – 
which I chair – has been calling for the creation of conditions for the 
generic production of the vaccine. In its Resolution 449 
<https://www.achpr.org/sessions/resolutions?id=480> of its 66th ordinary 
session held in 2020, it called on the AU to develop a strategy for 
making arrangements for the production and distribution of a Covid-19 
vaccine within the continent.

In an important development, in the 2020 chairperson’s report on the 
response to Covid-19, the AU Assembly acknowledged “the need for 
equitable and timely, access to the Covid-19 vaccine to all AU Member 
States which will require additional mechanisms to ensure at least 60% 
of the continent’s population is vaccinated”.

Indeed, the most effective way of speedy production and distribution of 
the vaccine without leaving developing countries behind, including many 
in Africa, is through the creation of conditions for the generic 
production and distribution of the vaccine. As Ghebreyesus pointed out, 
these conditions include “openly sharing vaccine manufacturing 
technology, intellectual property (IP), and know-how through the 
Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, temporarily waiving intellectual 
property barriers, and expanding voluntary contracting between 

Now supported by nearly 100 countries, the proposal India and South 
Africa put forward 
<https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/news/india-and-south-africa-propose-no-patents-covid-19-medicines-and-tools> in 
October 2020 calling on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to pause 
enforcement of IP regulations under the Agreement on Trade-Related 
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for Covid-19 treatment, 
would allow for the more affordable production of generic treatments for 
the duration of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, this call is facing stiff resistance 
from many developed countries and indeed from the major pharmaceutical 
companies themselves.

The AU has now thrown its collective weight behind this proposal as an 
important additional mechanism in the quest for herd immunity in Africa. 
As Pandor told her counterparts, the temporary waiver by the WTO of 
specific IP obligations related to the prevention and treatment of 
Covid-19 “would enable countries in Africa and elsewhere to access 
active pharmaceutical ingredients and benefit from technology transfer, 
including the know-how to manufacture vaccines in Africa at a cheaper 

The AU Assembly, noting that exceptional circumstances exist that 
justify a waiver from the obligations of the TRIPs agreement 
specifically for the prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19, 
decided to support the call.

This constitutes a critical addition to the current AU Covid-19 strategy 
to achieve, in the words of the AU chairperson’s statement, the 
containing of “the ever-changing toll of the pandemic in Africa”; hence 
the protection of people on the continent from the continuing threat of 
Covid-19 to their rights to health and life.



  Biden relents on WTO, greenlights new Director-General, Dr Ngozi

/February 10, 2021/: Former US President Trump made life at the top of 
the World Trade Organisation hard for its former head, Roberto Azevado, 
who left early to take a job with PepsiCo. Then Trump blocked the 
appointment of his replacement, who had clear majority support. Now US 
President Biden has cleared the way 
for her appointment,

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria, will be the first woman and first 
African to head the WTO.

The Biden administration decision is part of its re-engagement with the 
international community.

Under Trump, the US insisted on pressuring another candidate, South 
Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee not to withdraw in the face of 
majority support for Dr Okonjo Iweala, leading to an impasse last year 
which delayed any appointment.

The office of the US Trade Representative issued a statement of 
of Dr Okonjo Iweala which said that the Biden-Harris Administration 
looks forward to working with a new WTO Director General to find paths 
forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala worked for 25 years with the World Bank and had two 
terms as Nigerian Finance Minister. She faces a tough task, with the 
COVID-19 crisis adding to divisions and tensions in the international 
trading system that were already present before the pandemic hit the 
global economy.

An immediate challenge is the intense clash between the majority of 
members states and a few rich countries over a fair global distribution 
of vaccines. South Africa and India, supported by 100 other countries, 
have been sponsoring since October 2020 a proposed waiver of 
intellectual property rules <http://aftinet.org.au/cms/node/1964> for 
the duration of the pandemic. 

And the WTO has deeper problems along the same lines. Rich country 
demands for more trade liberalisation have paralysed the Doha 
Development Round since the Cancun Ministerial in 2003. Under Azevado, 
the advanced economies refused to listen to the concerns of the 
developing countries and instead initiated plurilateral talks on digital 
trade and services, and received inappropriate support in this from the 
WTO secretariat.

All this against a backdrop of a slowdown in global trade, the 
weaponisation of tariffs by the Trump administration and a dangerous 
technology war with China. Trump openly considered withdrawing from the 
WTO altogether, and crippled its Appeals Board.

While the US can be expected to push Dr Okonjo-Iweala to advance US 
demands for more trade liberalisation and a more favourable Appeals 
Board, the developing countries will also be struggling to advance their 
“inclusive and developmental” agenda of reforms, such as the waiver or 
intellectual property rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, securing a 
permanent solution for public stockholding programs for food security, 
and policy space for national economic development pathways.


    Commentary <https://caravanmagazine.in/format/commentary> Health

  WTO dithers on TRIPS waiver even as global gaps in COVID-19 vaccine
  access grow

KM Gopakumar <https://caravanmagazine.in/author/48924> and Chaitali Rao 
06 February 2021

As countries around the world have started vaccinating their residents 
against COVID-19, the unequal distribution of vaccines between rich and 
poor countries has become obvious and alarming. Since October, the World 
Trade Organisation has been debating a proposal initiated by India and 
South Africa to waive obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of 
Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS agreement to make COVID-19 
technologies, including vaccines, quickly accessible to across the 
world. During the TRIPS council meeting on 4 February, developed 
countries continued to oppose movement on the proposal.

Only ten countries account for 95 percent of the 40 million doses of 
COVID-19 vaccines administered globally. The World Health Organisation 
has been advocating <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-55795297> for 
vaccinating at least 70 percent of the global population to stall the 
pandemic. We have estimated that the current vaccine requirement is 
around 10.92 billion doses, that is, two doses per person. Current 
availability lags far behind at 7.2 billion doses. In this scenario, a 
handful of countries have already hoarded a majority of the available 
doses. High-income countries with only 16 percent of the world’s 
population have booked 
<https://launchandscalefaster.org/sites/default/files/documents/2021%2001.19%20updatedWeekly%20COVID%20Vaccine%20Research%20Update.pdf> 60 
percent of available doses by making commercial deals with 
manufacturers. The share of vaccines bought by lower middle-income 
countries is just about six percent and that of low-income countries is 
about four percent. If the current trend continues, poor nations can 
<https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/27/most-poor-nations-will-take-until-2024-to-achieve-mass-covid-19-immunisation> mass 
vaccination only by 2024.

The outrageous mismatch between the supply and demand and the 
intensification of manufacturing in the hands of a few private 
manufacturers, presents an urgent need to enhance the COVID-19 vaccine 
availability using the existing production facilities of diverse vaccine 
manufactures across the globe to ensure equitable access.

Vaccine manufactures have failed to meet their existing commitments so 
far. The Pfizer-BioNTech partnership cited upgradation of a 
manufacturing plant when it reduced the supply of its vaccine doses to 
the European Union. Astra-Zeneca scaled back 
<https://theconversation.com/covid-vaccine-supply-is-causing-an-eu-crisis-so-whats-being-done-to-speed-up-production-154153> supply 
to the EU from 80 million doses to 31 million during the first quarter 
of 2021. This supply shortage has decelerated the vaccination drive in 
the EU. The desperation for COVID-19 vaccines within and outside the EU 
was evident in the European Commission’s move to imposed 
<https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/29/eu-places-export-controls-on-coronavirus-vaccines.html> export 

COVAX, the WHO’s global vaccine programme to ensue equitable 
distribution, is struggling 
<https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19-5-february-2021> to 
keep its promise of supplying two billion doses by the end of 2021. 
COVAX aims to provide low-income countries to enough doses to vaccinate 
20 percent of their populations at no cost. These countries have to 
figure out how to vaccinate nearly 80 percent of their people. As a 
result, the African Union has entered a bilateral contract with vaccine 
manufactures to secure 270 million doses. When countries enter into 
bilateral deals they may be subjected to differential pricing. South 
Africa had to buy the COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India 
at $5.25 per dose—almost 2.5 times higher than what Astra-Zeneca charged 
most European countries.

Unlike the drug market, there is limited competition in the vaccine 
market. The global vaccine market is controlled by a few companies. The 
intellectual property regime and regulatory framework limit competition 
in the vaccine market. Patents and trade secrets are used to prevent 
competition. A single vaccine can have multiple patents on various 
aspects such as the molecule, the adjuvants, the manufacturing process, 
the dosage, and the route of administration. Patent barriers can be 
overcome using the flexibility of patent law such as compulsory 
licencing.  Compulsory licencing allows governments to suspend patent 
monopolies and generic manufacturing during emergencies. However, 
issuing compulsory licences in developing countries is not a smooth 
process and often subject to political pressure from developed countries.

Further, trade secrets play an important role in limiting the 
competition in the vaccine market. While on one hand, patent law insists 
that an invention be disclosed to enable replication and best mode of 
practice. On the other hand, trade secret laws allow the vaccine 
manufacturers to keep critical aspects of vaccine manufacturing closely 
guarded. As a result, various aspects of manufacturing such as cell 
lines, manufacturing processes, and the use of raw materials are often 
undisclosed. Trade secret laws have no bar for discovering trade 
practices using legal means. For example, a manufacturer can use his own 
technological capabilities to replicate an originator’s work. However, 
the regulatory framework that governs the marketing approval of the 
vaccine does not recognise such independently-acquired trade secret and 
insists that the safety and efficacy of non-originator vaccines must be 
proven separately.

In generic drug manufacturing, regulatory agencies follow an abbreviated 
pathway and neither insist that generic manufacturers follow the 
originator’s manufacturing process nor require them to prove the safety 
and efficacy through clinical trials. No such abbreviated regulatory 
pathway exists for vaccines. A non-originator or generic vaccine 
manufacturer is treated like an originator and has to prove the entire 
safety and efficacy of the vaccine through clinical trials. The only 
exception to the large-scale clinical trial is when the non-originator 
obtains the technology from an originator as in the case of the Serum 
Institute of India which got its Covidshield technology from 
AstraZeneca. Consequently, manufacturing a generic vaccine is a highly 
time-intensive and resource-intensive process. Therefore, access to 
trade secrets is critical to quickly scale up COVID-19 vaccines.

National vaccination rollouts, the lack of continuous supply and a 
widening accessibility gap presents an opportunity to craft an 
abbreviated regulatory pathway for COVID-19 vaccines. This will not only 
reduce the burden of onerous regulatory requirements but will ensure a 
seamless diversification of the manufacturing base for COVID-19 vaccines 
and facilitate access to critical information required for the 
non-originator producers. Regulatory and funding agencies in possession 
of this data can play a major role in disseminating it. However, 
obligations under the TRIPS agreement stand in the way. Article 39.3 of 
the agreement prohibits disclosure of data related to pharmaceutical 
products without taking measures against unfair commercial use.  Though 
there is an exception to this rule to “protect the public”, there is no 
shared understanding of the scope of this exception. There is also lack 
of clarity with regard to term “unfair commercial use,” which can be 
interpreted to include non-originator production. These legal obstacles 
under Article 39.3 can be fixed by waving the obligation under TRIPS to 
scale up COVID-19 vaccine production.

India and South Africa submitted a proposal to the World Trade 
Organisation on 2 October 2020 to waive certain TRIPS obligations for 
the prevention, treatment and containment of COVID-19. Bolivia, 
Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, Mongolia, Pakistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe 
have co-sponsored the proposal. A majority of WTO member countries have 
also support 
<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/rich-nations-refuse-to-waive-ip-rights-on-covid-19-vaccines-at-wto/articleshow/79682142.cms>ed it, 
as have global civil society organisations 
scholars and international organisations such as UNAIDS 
<https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2020/october/20201015_waiver-obligations-trips-agreement-covid19> and 
On 3 February, 14 EU parliamentarians wrote a letter asking 
<https://www.aninews.in/news/world/europe/eu-parliamentarians-strongly-back-india-south-africa-proposal-for-covid-vaccine-patent-waiver20210205044636/> the 
EU to support the waiver proposal. They also asked that the EU issue 
compulsory licences to facilitate the scaling up of COVID-19 vaccine 

As expected, developed countries, particularly the United States, the 
EU, Japan, Canada and Switzerland, opposed the adoption of the proposal 
and stalled the efforts of the vast majority of WTO members to take 
measures to scale up production. The opposition predominantly centred on 
three grounds. First, the often-cited argument that such measures will 
act as a disincentive to innovation for the pharma industry. This 
argument does not hold merit, especially in the context of a pandemic of 
the scale of COVID-19 and to a greater context in case of vaccines. Both 
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have received huge public funding 
for their research and production. The German government provided $375 
million to BioNTech to develop the vaccine technology. Similarly, 
another frontrunner Moderna received 
percent funding for vaccine development from the US government. A 
research report <https://healthpolicy-watch.news/81038-2/> suggests that 
governments have spent $93 billion on COVID-19 vaccines mainly through 
advanced market commitments.

The second argument is that existing flexibilities in the TRIPS 
agreement are good enough to address vaccine accessibility and therefore 
there is no need to waive TRIPS obligations.  However, this argument 
does not look into the fact that the existing flexibilities are 
primarily read in the context of patent law and domestic IP laws do not 
have such flexibilities in copyrights, industrial design or trade secret 
provisions. Moreover, the lack of clarity regarding the scope of 
flexibilities in relation to trade secret under Article 39.3  can have a 
chilling effect on the efforts to diversify the vaccine production.

Thirdly, developed countries argue that there is no shortage of COVID-19 
medical products and existing arrangements like COVAX are good enough to 
facilitate access. This is a hypocritical stand. Like the European 
Commission imposing export restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines, the United 
States has used their Defence Production Act—a law which gives he 
government more control over industrial production during emergencies—to 
improve vaccine access within the country. While, on one the hand, the 
US and the EU have used all possible legal and policy measures to secure 
vaccines for their populations, they continue to block the adoption of 
the waiver proposal and deny the policy space to the majority of WTO 
members to ensure vaccine access to their people.

Developed countries continued to stall progress on the waiver proposal 
on 4 February despite the call from all the co-sponsors and African 
group for text-based negotiations. What happens from now until the WTO’s 
general council meeting on 1-2 March will be illuminating as to whether 
developed countries place peoples’ lives in developing countries above 
the profit of pharmaceutical corporations.

/KM Gopakumar works as Legal Advisor for the //Third World Network 
<https://twn.my/>//. Chetali Rao is a lawyer specialising in patents, 
access to medicines and health issues./



Dear Colleagues,

On the 1st anniversary of WHO’s declaring of a global emergency 
<https://healthpolicy-watch.news/one-year-later-covid-19-versus-who-and-the-world-successes-failures-hopes/>   (a 
“PHEIC”), dr. Tedros sounded a bit like George Bush jr when urging the 
world to *‘**stay the course* 
(considering a consecutive drop in new COVID-19 cases as encouraging 
news, while warning us not to get too carried away).   (/PS/: /at least 
he didn’t sound like Donald Rumsfeld //😊)///

On the vaccine access front, it’s been quite a blitz in recent weeks. As 
you probably learnt by now, last weekend, Ursula “Team Europe” von der 
Leyen didn’t exactly experience her ‘finest hour’ 
Still, some of the current criticism of the EC vaccination strategy 
feels a bit cheap, and more importantly perhaps, ill-directed, at least 
from a GPG/”People’s Vaccine” perspective ( where a lot more criticism 
on the EU seems warranted <https://msfaccess.org/>, actually). But then 
again, maybe that’s understandable, as von der Leyen herself seems to 
have a rather bizarre interpretation of a ‘Global Public Good’ at times.

Now that the entire world is screaming for vaccines, the pressure to 
share IP will only increase, however. More and more big pharmaceutical 
companies (Sanofi, Novartis 
Bayer, GSK 
<https://www.ft.com/content/a68d19df-c5f4-454d-ba16-36733a17bcc2> …) are 
expressing their intention to “team up” with some of the current vaccine 
makers, adding vaccine manufacturing capacity and  thus ‘coming to the 
rescue’ (/of Thomas Cueni and //Bill Gates/ 
among others //😊//?/). Obviously, the all-important Serum Institute 
<https://www.ft.com/content/1bb8b97f-c046-4d0c-9859-b7f0b60678f4> also 
plays a vital role in all this (as well as Sputnik 
it turned out this week).

Earlier this week,*Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala* (a key contender for the WTO top 
job) positioned herself rather cautiously 
<https://www.thinkglobalhealth.org/article/trade-time-pandemics>  in the 
Covid related IP debate, certainly more so than *dr. Tedros* who didn’t 
mince words in a Foreign Policy op-ed 
in which he “/called for the sharing of vaccine manufacturing 
technology, intellectual property, know-how & other measures, *so that a 
few actors don’t determine when the pandemic ends*/”. Enter “/C-TAP, 
temporarily waiving IP barriers, and expanding voluntary contracting 
between manufacturers/”, among others.  Tedros argued, correctly, that 
“*hoarding vaccines is not just immoral, but also medically 
self-defeating”.*  And he also called a spade a spade, when calling for 
the need to “end the *artificial *coronavirus vaccine *scarcity*”. 
(/Tedros probably wrote this piece after a very strong cup of Ethiopian 
coffee //😊). ///

Anyway, regardless of the coffee involved, Tedros is damned right, and I 
certainly have a lot more trust in going this road than in (WHO) 
*teaming up with* the likes of *FIFA * 
<https://www.who.int/news/item/01-02-2021-fifa-and-who-actogether-to-tackle-covid-19> to 
further promote ACT-A etc.   “/Star footballers …. will promote 
equitable global access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics”. 
/Ahum/. /Even the WHO Communications team must have realized  the timing 
for this claim was a bit off, in the very week that Messi’s dazzling 
contract figures were leaked 

*Most African countries don’t want to take any chances, however, and are 
now going full speed ahead **for a mix of options* 
either through bilateral means, regional (AU) or multilateral mechanisms 
(COVAX). WHO seems confident 
that by the end of 2021, a third of the African population can already 
be vaccinated. On Wednesday, it was good to see (*an indicative) **COVAX 
dose distribution plan unveiled* 
with at least some doses for 145 countries to start vaccinating health 
workers and other vulnerable groups.

While all eyes are on vaccine equity, “*oxygen shortages* continue to 
bite in poorer countries battling Covid”. 
<https://www.ft.com/content/c0eaf4c2-0c4f-497b-9d47-c362845467f1> (FT) 
The *medical oxygen crisis* should get far more attention 
<https://www.ft.com/content/b1c91c0c-98eb-4b16-9277-c978e3cd39ec> than 
it does so far.

We end this week’s intro by inviting you to listen to “*It’s ok to cry* 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_S0qCeA-pc>”, by (transgender 
producer/artist) *Sophie*, who passed away last week, far too early. 
While the song clearly isn’t about the pandemic, it also seems befitting 
our tragic times in which we all mourn lost lives.

Enjoy your reading.

Kristof Decoster

Download as a *PDF* (EN) 
Download as a *PDF* (FR) 


        UN News - WHO urges effective and fair use of COVID vaccines


On Tedros’ media briefing from late last week. “/With COVID-19 vaccines 
currently in scarce supply, the head of the WHO [last week] on Friday 
*pressed governments to prioritize inoculation of health workers and 
older persons, and to share excess doses with other nations*/.”

See also *Reuters* - WHO warns countries fighting over vaccine "cake" 

“*/The World Health Organization urged countries squabbling over 
COVID-19 vaccine supplies to think about the situation of health workers 
in less developed countries/*/. “We all need to step into the place of 
them. Where they are today fighting on the front line...,” *Mike Ryan*, 
WHO’s top emergency expert, told reporters/….”

        FT - Oxygen shortages bite in poorer countries battling Covid


Must-read. “… */Global demand for medical oxygen to treat patients with 
Covid-19 has risen sharply in recent months, fast outstripping supplies 
and raising concerns that thousands of patients in low and middle-income 
countries will not receive life-saving treatment/*/. *Demand has 
increased by more than a fifth in the past three months*, with many 
countries experiencing larger rises. Manufacturers have been diverting 
oxygen from industrial uses such as welding to healthcare, but funding 
and focus have been limited, and capacity in hospitals and clinics is 
insufficient to cope with the jump in intensive-care patients, companies 
and health experts say. … …*NGOs and medical workers are calling for 
more support and action on the issue from multilateral organisations, 
companies and donors, urging them to step up oxygen production and 
delivery alongside rolling out vaccines and medicines….”*/

/… …. “*The international community and many governments have been 
appallingly slow to respond. Until Covid-19 vaccines become available, 
oxygen is the most important life-save weapon in the medical armoury.* 
We are drifting into a region-wide humanitarian crisis,” Kevin Watkins, 
head of charity Save the Children UK, said*. Estimates* from the 
*Covid-19 Oxygen Needs Tracker*, compiled by a group of health 
charities, suggest that *middle and lower-income nations need more than 
10.2m cubic metres of oxygen a day — up from 8.5m cubic metres a day in 
November — with demand surging in countries including Brazil, Nigeria 
and Peru. *One problem is that *the global market for oxygen production 
is complex and fragmented — split between large manufacturers such as 
Air Liquide and British-based Linde, and local hospital production* — 
while data on medical capacity and use are limited….”/

        Reuters - Global vaccine trust rising, but France, Japan, others


/“*People’s willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is rising 
around the world and more than half of those questioned said they would 
take the shot if it were offered next week*, an updated survey of global 
vaccine confidence found on Thursday. But attitudes and confidence vary 
widely in the 15 countries covered in the survey, with France showing 
high levels of scepticism and some Asian countries showing declining 
trust in vaccines, while some European nations see rising confidence….”/

        WHO - WHO publishes public health research agenda for managing


/1 Framework &: “*Within … five streams, 65 research questions were 
developed and prioritized* so that the practice of infodemicmanagement 
has a focus, structure, a methodology that’s rooted in evidence and room 
to further evolve as a discipline….”/

      Covid science

As this is not really the focus of this newsletter, see also the extra 
Covid section (scroll down)

PS: It’s clear that a number of vaccine companies are also already 
frantically preparing for the next generation of vaccines (among others, 
to deal with (current & future) variants)

        Nature (Editorial) - Coronavirus is in the air — there’s too
        much focus on surfaces


“/Catching the coronavirus from surfaces is rare. The World Health 
Organization and national public-health agencies need to clarify their 

        NYT - The AstraZeneca vaccine is shown to drastically cut
        transmission of the virus.


“*/The vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca not 
only protects people from serious illness and death but also 
substantially slows the transmission of the virus, according to a new 
study/*/— a finding that underscores the importance of mass vaccination 
as a path out of the pandemic.*The study by researchers at the 
University of Oxford is the first to document evidence that any 
coronavirus vaccine can reduce transmission of the virus.*Researchers 
measured the impact on transmission by swabbing participants every week 
seeking to detect signs of the virus. If there is no virus present, even 
if someone is infected, it cannot be spread. And they found //a 67 
percent reduction in positive swabs/ 
those vaccinated. The results, detailed by Oxford and AstraZeneca 
researchers in a manuscript that has not been peer-reviewed, found that 
the vaccine could cut transmission by nearly two-thirds/….”

But for some ‘perspective’ on this apparently merry news, see *Stat* - 
With a seductive number, AstraZeneca study fueled hopes that eclipsed 
its data 

        Guardian - Monoclonal antibodies: 'great hope' in Covid
        treatments fails against variants


/“Exclusive: no leading contender is effective against all the South 
African, Brazilian and Kent variants.” /

        NYT - How the Search for Covid-19 Treatments Faltered While
        Vaccines Sped Ahead


“/Vaccine development exceeded everyone’s expectations. But the next few 
months will still bring many sick people — and doctors have woefully few 
drugs with which to treat them.” /

        Stat - J&J one-dose Covid vaccine is 66% effective, a weapon but
        not a knockout punch


(Last week on Friday), “/Johnson & Johnson said that its single-dose 
Covid-19 vaccine reduced rates of moderate and severe disease, but the 
shot appeared less effective in South Africa, where a new coronavirus 
variant has become common. Overall, the vaccine was 66% effective at 
preventing moderate to severe disease 28 days after vaccination. But 
efficacy differed depending on geography. The shot was 72% effective 
among clinical trial volunteers in the U.S, but 66% among those in Latin 
America, and just 57% among those in South Africa….”/

        Science News - One-dose COVID-19 vaccine offers solid protection
        against severe disease


Science on the J&J vaccine.The fact that it’s ‘one dose’ is clearly very 
important for LMICs.

        TGH - We May Never Get to Herd Immunity


*Chris Murray’s take*(with focus on the US). “/Vaccine hesitancy and 
other behavioral risks reduce the likelihood of herd immunity.”/

        Telegraph – Vaccines: the next generation in the battle against
        Covid revealed


“/Variants are the concern now - but the second wave of vaccines, if 
they work, could have other major benefits too/.” Overview of what the 
‘*next generation’ of vaccines* has in store.

Some links:

·Novavax offers first evidence that COVID vaccines protect people 
against variants <https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00268-9>

“/Novavax’s experimental shot is highly effective against the variant 
identified in Britain — but saw a worrying drop in efficacy against a 
lineage detected in South Africa/.”

·The Lancet - Next-generation COVID-19 vaccines: here come the proteins 

·Guardian - GSK and CureVac sign £132m *deal to develop multi-variant 
Covid vaccine* 

·HPW - Oxford University To Begin Trial On Mixed Vaccines 
“*/The world’s first mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine trial,/*/sponsored 
by Oxford University, is currently recruiting volunteers to investigate 
the efficacy of alternating between Pfizer/BioNTech and 
Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines….”/


·WP - India's coronavirus puzzle: Why case numbers are plummeting 
tweet: “ It /might suggest that herd immunity has started to work in 
India not through vaccination, but through infections with the virus./”

      Covid vaccine access

Heavy section. Among others, with updates on *Sputnik*, *COVAX*, vaccine 
diplomacy (& hijacking), AU efforts, *TRIPS waiver proposal negotiations*, …

        FT - Vaccine milestone as global Covid jabs pass number of
        confirmed cases


Some encouraging news to start this section: “*/The number of Covid-19 
vaccinations globally has surpassed the total number of confirmed cases, 
a landmark moment/*/that underscores progress made in taming the 
pandemic despite mounting concern about the threat of new variants. 
According to the Financial Times vaccine tracker, *the number of doses 
administered climbed close to 104m on Wednesday while the number of 
confirmed cases was just over 103m….”*/

But concerns remain over emerging variants and supplies.

        HPW - Russia’s “Sputnik V” COVID Vaccine Makes Strong 91.6 %
        Efficacy Showing In Peer-Reviewed Trial Results


Key analysis on the Sputnik results & what they mean for vaccine access 
in LMICs.

“/Fulfilling the legacy of its pioneering name, *the Russian Sputnik V 
vaccine, was over 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 cases 
and 100% effective in preventing severe COVID*, according to //results 
published Tuesday/ 
<https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00234-8/fulltext>/ in The 
Lancet. Globally, that means that the Sputnik vaccine joins the club 
with just two other coronavirus vaccines that have demonstrated an 
efficacy of 90% or more – the others being Moderna’s and Pfizer’s 
high-tech mRNA vaccines. /*/The Lancet publication also marks the first 
time that Phase 3 trial results of one of the “elusive trio” of Russian 
and Chinese vaccines have been published in a peer-reviewed journa/*/l.  
That marks a big step forward in the transparent review of vaccines 
generally – setting a bar that Chinese vaccines will have to pass over 
as well to gain WHO approval and widespread public acceptance.  “/

*/It's also “Good News for Low and Middle Income Countries”:“/*/Most 
importantly, the results are very good news for the nearly //fifty 
countries/ <https://rdif.ru/Eng_COVID-19/>/ across the globe that have 
pre-ordered over 1.2 billion doses of the Sputnik vaccine, developed by 
Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and 
Microbiology, and marketed abroad by the Russian Direct Investment Fund 
(RDIF).  … … //… //Its low price of $US 10 per dose, and easy storage in 
conventional refrigerators at temperatures of 2°C to °8 C, has indeed 
made Sputnik a strong market competitor with the vaccines being produced 
by pharma companies in western Europe and theUnited States. … //… 
/*/Sputnik’s Vaccine Production & Distribution Already Widespread … 
/*/Sputnik’s vaccine has received considerable worldwide attention in 
recent months, with 16 countries across Latin America, Asia, Africa, as 
well as Iran, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority, in 
the Eastern Mediterranean Region, already having given the vaccine 
regulatory approval.   Local production has begun in India, South Korea, 
Brazil, China, and about to begin in Kazakhstan and Belarus, probably in 
Turkey, maybe even in Iran, said Dmitriev.…. In *particular, India will 
be a “key partner” of Sputnik because of its massive manufacturing 
capacity, with potential to produce as much of the vaccine as Russia is 
producing now. *“*We’re even ready to call Sputnik V a Russian/Indian 
vaccine because we have five production partners in India*, and from the 
very beginning we’ve been in very close collaboration, because India has 
outstanding production capacities for the vaccine,” said Dmitriev, whose 
comments also reflect the geopolitical alliances around vaccine 
collaborations/. …”

See also HPW – Publication Of Sputnik V Results Shore Up Prospects Of 
“Elusive Trio” – But Answers Still Needed On China’s COVID-19 Vaccines 

“/According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is 
marketing the Sputnik vaccine abroad, *some */*/fifty countries/* 
<https://rdif.ru/Eng_COVID-19/>*/ have already requested over 1.2 
billion doses of the Sputnik vaccine/*….”

        WHO - COVAX publishes first interim distribution forecast


Encouraging news on Wednesday/. “…Building on the publication of the 
2021 COVAX global and regional supply forecast, *the interim 
distribution forecast provides information on early projected 
availability of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Q1 2021 and the 
AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate in first half 2021 to COVAX 
Facility participants*. … … The purpose of sharing the interim 
distribution with countries, even in today’s highly dynamic global 
supply environment, is to provide governments and health systems with 
the information they need to plan for their national vaccination 
programmes. Final allocations will be published in due course. The 
interim distribution forecast outlines projected delivery of vaccine 
doses to all Facility participants, with the exception of participants 
who have either exercised their rights to opt-out, have not submitted 
vaccine requests, or have not yet been allocated doses.”/

The *interim distribution forecast* is available//here/./ 

·Coverage via *Reuters *– COVAX allocates at least 330 million COVID 
vaccines for poor countries 

“*/The COVAX coronavirus vaccine sharing scheme has allocated at least 
330 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries in the first 
half of 2021/*/, the GAVI vaccine alliance said on Wednesday. The 
allocation includes an initial 240 million doses of the 
AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of 
India, an additional 96 million doses of the same shot made by 
AstraZeneca, plus 1.2 million doses of Pfizer -BioNTech’S COVID-19 
vaccine. …*doses would cover an average of 3.3% of total populations of 
145 participating countries*. COVAX said the allocations would be 
*subject to various caveats, including WHO emergency listing and 
countries’ readiness and acceptance.”*/

And HPW - COVAX Dose Distribution Plan Also 

UN News - Key workers and other vulnerable people in 145 countries 
should receive COVID-19 vaccines in the first half of this year 

Devex - COVAX releases country-by-country vaccine distribution figures 

“*/Countries will receive doses in proportion to their population 
size/*/. For example, Afghanistan will receive 3 million doses, while 
Namibia receives about 127,000. These doses are expected to reach about 
3.3% of the total population of the 145 facility participants during 
this time frame. *Vaccines are expected to go to the most vulnerable 
populations, including health care workers*/*….”*

“…*/The COVAX Facility will also distribute 1.2 million of the 40 
million expected doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine/*/in the first 
quarter of this year. Due to the challenges around the vaccine’s 
ultracold chain requirements and the limited supply available, *only 18 
countries will receive the Pfizer vaccine in this batch…..”*/

·A few tweets (*Kai Kupferschmidt*) :

“/COVAX facility just published a forecast of what country will receive 
how much of what //#covid19/ 
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/covid19?src=hashtag_click>/vaccine in the 
first half of this year. *Lots of caveats of course. This is mostly AZ 
vaccine, which does not have emergency use listing yet, for instance*.”/

/“/*/Big picture/*/: Countries can expect to receive vaccine to cover on 
average 3,3% of their population in first half of 2021, "*enough to 
protect the most vulnerable groups such as health care workers*/”.”

        UNICEF to Receive 1.1 Billion Coronavirus Vaccine Doses

Via Devex: “*UNICEF also **announced* 
<https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/unicef-executive-director-henrietta-fores-remarks-briefing-covax-publishing-interim>* Wednesday 
that it concluded a long-term supply agreement with the Serum Institute 
of India giving it access to the intellectual property of vaccines 
created by AstraZeneca and **Novavax 
<https://www.devex.com/organizations/novavax-inc-56814>*. /This will 
allow it and its procurement partners to access up to 1.1 billion doses 
of vaccines for around 100 low- and lower-middle-income countries, at 
roughly $3 per dose.”/

        HPW - COVAX Has Sent Vaccine ‘Indicative Allocation’ Letters to
        Member Countries


 From earlier this week. “…. /COVAX, the best known arm of the Act 
Accelerator, aims to distribute over 2.3 billion vaccines in 2021. But 
it and other arms of the *ACT-Accelerator initiative remain about US$26 
billion short of funds*, officials say. … … However, with sufficient 
vaccine commitments under its belt for now, *COVAX …aims to start 
distributing vaccines within the next few weeks – beginning with a 40 
million-dose supply procured at-cost from Pfizer, as well as doses of a 
more affordable and temperature stable vaccine developed by AstraZeneca 
and Oxford University and being manufactured by India’s Serum 
Institute*. WHO has already approved the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, 
and it is in the final stages of reviewing AstraZeneca’s product – which 
has already been approved by regulatory authorities in the United 
Kingdom, the EU, India and elsewhere. … *Aylward confirmed that the 
global vaccine access platform, */*/COVAX/* 
<https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/covax-explained>*/, had sent letters 
to all 190 member countries yesterday notifying them of the “indicative 
allocations” of vaccines/*/that they could expect. He said that these 
allocations would be published on the //COVAX Supply Forecast/ 
<https://www.gavi.org/sites/default/files/covid/covax/COVAX%20Supply%20Forecast.pdf>/ in 
the next few days.  … *DG Tedros has said that the Organization wants to 
get initial vaccine doses to every country in the world – for 
administration to health workers and others most at risk – within the 
first 120 days of this year – e.g. end of April*./  …”

See also HPW 
on WHO (/Covax) and the AstraZeneca vaccine:

“… */Following news of the authorization of the Oxford/AstraZeneca 
vaccine in the EU, WHO officials expressed their hope to grant the 
vaccine emergency use listing within two weeks/*/. The Strategic 
Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (*SAGE), WHO’s vaccine 
advisory panel, is scheduled to meet to review the Oxford/AstraZeneca 
vaccine on 8 February*.  “We should have an emergency use listing, 
providing, of course, that everything goes to plan and all the data is 
there. We can then start receiving doses from the manufacturing sites in 
India and South Korea,” said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, at 
a press conference on Friday/. …”

And via Cidrap News 

/“*The WHO's Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) */*/said/* 
<https://www.paho.org/en/news/31-1-2021-countries-americas-notified-first-covid-19-vaccine-allocations-through-covax>*/ yesterday 
that 36 countries and territories in the Americas that are participating 
in COVAX received their letters and that an estimated 35.3 million doses 
will be arriving in the Americas for the first stage/*/. PAHO said the 
WHO is still reviewing the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for emergency use, 
with a decision expected within the next few days. Most countries in the 
Americas will receive vaccines through COVAX with their own financing, 
but 10 will get vaccine at no cost because of their economic situation 
or population size.”/

        Reuters - COVAX to send AstraZeneca shot to Latin America, some
        states to get Pfizer too


“*/The COVAX global vaccine sharing scheme expects to deliver 35.3 
million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to 36 Caribbean and 
Latin American states from mid-February to the end of June/*/, the World 
Health Organization’s regional office said. *The Pan American Health 
Organization (PAHO) said the Americas region needed to immunise about 
500 million people to control the pandemic….”*/

        Guardian - Canada takes Covax vaccines despite side deals


It appears beavers and grizzly’s also suffer from Covid in 
Canada.*/“Canada is set to receive a significant haul of vaccines/*/over 
the next months through a platform designed to maximise supply to poor 
countries, according to a new forecast, despite reserving the most 
doses-per-person in the world through direct deals with pharmaceutical 
companies. *Chile and */*/New Zealand/* 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/newzealand>/, which have also made 
controversial side deals to secure their own vaccine supplies, *will 
also receive above-average numbers of doses*, according to the interim 
allocation schedule released by Covax on Wednesday….”/

        Reuters - China to provide 10 million vaccine doses to COVAX


*“/China plans to provide 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 
global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX, as three Chinese companies have 
applied to join the initiative for approval/*/, the foreign ministry 
said on Wednesday. … … China’s foreign ministry said in January that 
Sinovac Biotech, China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and 
CanSino Biologics have applied to join the scheme … Wang Wenbin, a 
spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, announced the supply plan at 
a regular media briefing on Wednesday, without going into details. … The 
three companies were not immediately available for comment. … *The WHO, 
which is reviewing the applications, could make decisions on vaccines 
made by Sinopharm and Sinovac in March at the earliest*, according to a 
COVAX internal document seen by Reuters/….”

PS: Via HPW 
/**/at least 24/* 
<https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/25/business/china-covid-19-vaccine-backlash.html?action=click&campaign_id=51&emc=edit_MBE_p_20210126&instance_id=26406&module=RelatedLinks&nl=morning-briefing&pgtype=Article&regi_id=116740485&section=topNews&segment_id=50252&te=1&user_id=027949038dbb8f4e0c1b7a84e50966c8>*/ countries 
have sealed deals with Sinovac and Sinopharm’s leading vaccine 
candidate, BBIBP-CorV/*/, co-developed with the Beijing Institute of 
Biological Products. Like Sputnik, both can be stored in a 
conventionalrefrigerator. *Together, */*/Sinopharm 
<https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-vaccine/sinopharm-says-may-be-able-to-make-over-one-billion-coronavirus-vaccine-doses-in-2021-idINKBN2750VB>/**/ and 
<https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/more-data-its-covid-19-vaccine-russia-institute-offers-new-evidence-success>/**/ aim 
to produce two billion doses this year, which is on par with the total 
number of doses that the international COVAX facility /*/hopes to supply 
to countries in need this year – although neither company has offered 
COVAX any vaccine supplies.  …”/

        Geneva Health Files - COVAX & the question of liability:
        COVID-19 vaccines

P Patnaik; Geneva Health Files 

A close look at the proposed mechanism put in place by WHO and Gavi to 
address liability and indemnification issues around the introduction of 
COVID-19 vaccines in the developing world.

Cfr: WHO and Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance have put together *a no-fault 
compensation fund*.

/“According to WHO, a *COVAX no-fault compensation programme for 
AMC-eligible economies is being established as a mechanism to compensate 
persons who might suffer a serious adverse event* following the 
administration of a COVID-19 vaccine procured or distributed through the 
COVAX Facility. …”/

The newsletter also *looks ahead, to a potential oversupply from 
vaccines* (and how this can affect liability discussions).

/“The dynamics on liability discussions are likely going to change, and 
not only because of the events between AstraZeneca and the EU this past 
week. Unbelievable as it may sound now, possibly due to an oversupply of 
vaccines within a few months, experts say./According to the UNICEF 
supply division dashboard 
tracks vaccines production for COVID-19 in real-time, *the reported 
global vaccine production volumes could be 19 billion doses by the end 
of 2021. By the end of 2022 it is projected to touch 27 billion 
doses.*At least 35 companies have announced some production capacity 
this year for a total of 19 billion doses. …”

        Foreign Policy - Vaccine Nationalism Harms Everyone and Protects
        No One

*Dr. Tedros*: 

See also this week’s intro. “/The World Health Organization’s chief 
argues that *hoarding vaccines isn’t just immoral—its medically 
self-defeating*/*.” *

        Geneva Health Files – Inconsistencies in the opposition to the
        TRIPS Waiver

P Patnaik; Geneva Health Files 

Analysis ahead of the *WTO TRIPS Council informal meetingon 4 Feb*.

*/“…It has become increasingly inconsistent for the EU, the U.S., and 
others,  to oppose the TRIPS waiver proposal at WTO/*/. Prevailing 
production bottlenecks in the EU have demonstrated the costs of such 
inconsistencies. This has come to a stead now, with the new EU export 
regulations that went through a hasty birth late last week, //to finally 
re-emerge over the weekend/ 
//as the damage had already been done./ 
…As the EU has come to realize, problems in the scaling up of 
manufacturing of complex products such as vaccines has actively hurt the 
response to the pandemic. *Belatedly, we have seen examples of Novartis 
and Sanofi step up to produce vaccines of other companies. Why then 
would the EU continue to oppose plans at WTO’s TRIPS Council to liberate 
protected manufacturing practices which would help manufacturers 
worldwide to step in and meet demand for the production of vaccines, 
while creating capacities for the future*?...”/

PS: re Covax:/“… At a press briefing last week, *WHO officials noted 
that while the agreements of manufacturers with COVAX may be safe, “the 
real question is of volumes*.” WHO has suggested that countries have 
been told about “*indicative allocations” based on projections from 
manufacturers and preferences made by countries, but hinted that volumes 
could be subject to production glitches as witnessed recently….”*/

**/“Countries opposing the TRIPS waiver proposal do not wish to move 
towards text-based discussions. Proponents have been pushing for 
discussing the language of such a proposal including negotiating on the 
scope and the time-frame for the application of such a waiver.”/

Link – *MSF (3 Feb*/) - /MSF to wealthy countries: Don’t block and ruin 
the potential of a landmark waiver on monopolies during the pandemic 
of the meeting on 3 Feb)

Link: TWN <https://www.twn.my/title2/health.info/2021/hi210201.htm>

“… */With the recent change of the administration in Washington, now led 
by President Joe Biden, the Nigerian candidate’s chances of being 
appointed as the new director-general have substantially brightened/*/, 
said participants familiar with these developments/.”

        Devex - In Brief: Rich countries block waiver on COVID-19 vaccine IP


Coverage of the 4 Feb meeting: “/Rich countries continued to block a 
proposal from South Africa and India to waive intellectual property 
protections on COVID-19 drugs and vaccines during a new round of talks 
Thursday at the World Trade Organization.”/

“…./while there are reports that the EU and the U.S. expressed more 
openness to discussions on the issue, both continue to obstruct the 

See also a few *tweets from Geneva Health Files*:

/“*Countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and 
Japan, continued to oppose the waiver proposal.* Members including the 
EU and the U.S. did not want to proceed towards text-based discussions: 
sources say.”/

*/“The US is reportedly open "to working together with members to better 
understand the facts/*/" where TRIPS obligations on patents, copyright, 
industrial designs, or trade secrets might have led to constraints on 
manufacturing capacity: sources.”/



*Okonjo-Iweala: Access To COVID-19 Vaccines ‘Not Just Moral Imperative – 
It Is A Strategic And Economic One’ *
Medicines & Vaccines 
09/02/2021 • Madeleine Hoecklin 

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – poised for election next week as Director General 
of WTO.

In her first major public statement since the United States signaled 
it would approve her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade 
Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala highlighted the need for rich 
countries to step up their financial contributions to ensure equitable 
access to COVID-19 tools.

Okonjo-Iweala was the keynote speaker on Tuesday at the fourth meeting 
of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Facilitation Council, 
where a new burden sharing agreement to recruit more funds from donor 
countries to fill a $27 billion funding gap was announced. The Council 
needs the money to rollout key components of the ACT’s flagship project, 
COVAX, the global vaccine distribution facility, as well as parallel 
initiatives to ensure global access to COVID-19 tests and treatments.

Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as the first woman and first African DG of 
the WTO is likely to be confirmed next week; WTO members are now set to 
reconvene Monday – following the shift in the US position, which had 
been the sole outstanding obstacle to her election last December.

As she takes over the helm of the WTO, Okonjo-Iweala will have to 
negotiate a thorny course in a heated COVID-related debate among trade 
delegates. Low- and middle-income countries, led by South Africa and 
India, are seeking WTO approval for an “IP waiver” on all COVID-related 
health products, for the duration of the pandemic – while rich countries 
that have opposed the move.

In her comments before the council, Okonjo-Iweala, steered a middle 
course during the meeting, calling for greater equity in vaccine 
distribution and more donor funding to support the global COVAX facility 
and other ACT Accelerator initiatives co-sponsored by WHO and a range of 
other UN agencies and public-private partnerships. Okonjo-Iweala is 
currently the WHO Special Envoy for the ACT Accelerator, which was 
established in April 2020.

Echoing the message conveyed by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO 
Director General, in his opening remarks, Okonjo-Iweala emphasised the 
current inequity in the global vaccine rollout, with people in over 60% 
of high-income countries being vaccinated, while only a handful of 
low-income countries have received doses so far.

The COVID-19 vaccination doses administered globally per 100 people, as 
of 8 February 2021.

“If we want to stop this pandemic from spreading and mutating, we need 
to change the way this map looks as fast as we can,” Okonjo-Iweala said, 
referring to the map of the administered COVID-19 vaccines per 100 
people in the population.

          We Cannot Delay The Rollout Of Tools

“We cannot delay the rollout of tools around the world. Equitable access 
to COVID-19 tools is not just a moral imperative, as Dr. Tedros said, it 
is a strategic and economic one as well. Global solidarity is the 
fastest, most effective way to defeat the pandemic,” declared 

She praised the the ambitious ACT Accelerator initiative as the 
“fastest, most coordinated and successful global effort in history to 
develop these tools to fight the disease.”

However, the initiative is plagued by “persistent underinvestment in 
global solutions and increasing bilateral action,” which undermines the 
ability of the COVAX facility to procure vaccines for participating 
countries, including the world’s poorest countries, at an affordable 
price, she noted.

“Governments everywhere are under immense pressure to secure doses for 
all of their citizens. Many cannot afford the bilateral deals, others 
are still seeking them, and some have secured more doses than their 
populations require. Solving these problems requires all of us to come 
together to find solutions,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

“Given the contraction in available official development assistance, 
many more countries will have to bite the bullet and find sustainable 
ways to finance and co-finance COVID-19 tools, including through 
multilateral development banks,” she added.

Countries participating in COVAX are prepared to begin receiving doses 
and COVAX is prepared to start distributing the vaccines, having already 
released an interim distribution forecast 
the first and second quarter of 2021, however, adequate supplies of the 
vaccines may not be available to meet the needs of countries.

“The ACT Accelerator’s COVAX vaccines facility is poised for the fast 
track distribution of two plus billion doses of internationally 
recognised safe, effective, and quality assured vaccines across 109 
participating countries and economies. And countries are ready…However, 
there are challenges,” said Okonjo-Iweala.

“Countries, manufacturers, regulators, civil society, and actors in the 
multilateral system all have a role to play to ensure that vaccines 
reach people in all countries, prevent infection and end this pandemic 
everywhere….This is why we’re here today,” Okonjo-Iweala added.

          *Pharmaceutical Companies Dedicated to Ensuring Equitable
          Access to Vaccines*

Meanwhile, the CEO of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, also appearing at the 
meeting, said he believed the company’s vaccine can remain a critical 
anchor of the global COVAX effort to roll out vaccines in low- and 
middle-income countries – despite the poor initial showing the 
AstraZeneca vaccine has made in stopping mild and moderate disease from 
a SARS-CoV2 virus variant that first emerged in South Africa.

“Our commitment as a company to supply COVAX, together with our 
collaboration with the Serum Institute of India, who are developing the 
vaccine together with us, means that over 300 million doses of the 
vaccine could be made available to 145 countries in the first half of 
this year, subject to regulatory approval,” said Soriot. The AstraZeneca 
vaccine is one of the backbones of the global initiative, with the 
largest commitment of vaccine volumes to COVAX so far.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, at the ACT Accelerator Facilitation 
Council meeting on Tuesday.

“Our supply to COVAX means that on average 3% of people in these 
countries will receive the vaccine. And I’m really proud to say that 61% 
of our projected supply for COVAX during this period of time is due to 
go to low and middle income countries,” said Soriot.

On Sunday, however, the vaccine’s image in Africa suffered a major blow 
as South Africa announced 
it was putting the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on hold due 
to data showing low efficacy against the B.1.351 variant that has been 
spreading in the country.

Soriot stressed, however, that the vaccine still should be able to 
protect against severe disease. A recent study in Great Britain has also 
been encouraging, suggesting that the AstraZeneca vaccine may not only 
prevent disease in those who are immunised, but also reduce virus 
transmission to others by as much as two-thirds.

“Right now it is essential that vaccines continue to be administered to 
as many people as possible,” as the benefits of vaccines far outweigh 
the risks of their potential lower efficacy against the new variants, 
said Soriot.

“We will never fully stop COVID-19 until everyone everywhere has access 
to an effective vaccine. The need to bring COVID-19 vaccines to the 
world equitably has become even more pressing in recent weeks as we see 
more infectious strains of the virus emerge in multiple countries and 
spread rapidly across the world,” said Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific 
Officer at Johnson & Johnson, who also appeared at the meeting.

While pausing the rollout of AstraZeneca, South Africa is accelerating 
its plan to vaccinate people with the J&J vaccine, which showed 
reasonable efficacy against the B.1.351 variant in recently reported 
Phase 3 trial results.

“Since day one of our program we have been committed to bringing an 
affordable COVID-19 vaccine on not-for-profit basis for emergency 
pandemic use,” said Stoffels.

Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson.

As part of the Johnson and Johnson commitment, the company has pledged 
to provide up to 500 million doses of its single-dose vaccine to low 
income countries through COVAX in an agreement signed with GAVI, The 
Vaccine Alliance, in December of last year.

“Beating COVID-19 will require constant surveillance, continued 
innovation, including potential boosters development, and all the new 
vaccine strategies and close partnerships between government and vaccine 
makers. Only through innovative collaboration fueling new ideas, well 
planned implementation of equitable approaches, as well as constant 
vigilance and a sense of urgency will the world beat COVID-19,” said 

          *Council Discusses New “Burden Sharing” Arrangement To Prod
          Donors To Fund Budget Gap *

Meanwhile, the Council discussed the refined financing framework, which 
included a burden sharing mechanism, and the updated priorities and 
strategies for the ACT Accelerator for 2021.

In light of the successes in the development of vaccines, diagnostics, 
and therapeutics, as well as the evolving knowledge about the necessary 
measures to combat COVID-19 globally – informed by the spread of virus 
variants and the increasing fragmentation of international collaboration 
– the ACT Accelerator launched its ‘refreshed’ strategy on Tuesday.

The four new strategic priorities for the ACT Accelerator in 2021.

For 2021, the four core priorities of the ACT Accelerator are: rapidly 
scaling up the doses available for vaccinations, particularly for the 
COVAX facility; bolstering R&D to address the virus variants; 
stimulating the uptake of tests and therapeutics in low- and 
middle-income countries; and ensuring a robust supply pipeline is 
established to deliver essential tools to low- and middle-income countries.

In addition, new and existing financing sources were evaluated through 
the Council’s finance working group to develop a robust financing 
framework to ensure the promise of ACT Accelerator is realised.

The funding commitments 
<https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/funding-tracker>to the 
ACT Accelerator currently total US$6 billion, with the United Kingdom, 
Canada, Germany, and the Diagnostics Consortium for COVID-19 
contributing the most. An additional US$4 billion is projected in funding.

The ACT Accelerator is facing a US$27.2 billion funding gap, of which 
US$19.2 billion is needed from high-income and upper middle-income 
countries to fully finance the initiative, according to John-Arne 
Røttingen, Ambassador for Global Health for the Norwegian Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs and a member of the Council’s finance working group.

“We are gravely concerned that the current ACT Accelerator’s funding 
gaps will impede global equitable access to these products and 
ultimately delay the end to the crisis everywhere,” said the Council 
co-chairs, Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s Minister of Health, and Dag-Inge 
Ulstein, Norway’s Minister of International Development, in a statement 
released in December.

The new financing goals and needs to close the funding gap for the ACT 
Accelerator, presented at the Council meeting on Tuesday.

To recruit funding to fill this gap, a burden sharing framework was 
developed to determine contribution based on GDP and the level of 
openness of the economy, with a greater proportion of income paid by 
richer countries. Countries are then categorised into different ranges 
of contributions.

A preliminary illustration of what this grouping of countries may look 
like was introduced at the meeting. While the burden sharing mechanism 
is not yet fully developed, officials hope it could lead to a rise in 

The grouping of countries under the new burden sharing mechanism 
proposed by the financial working group of the ACT Acceleration 
Facilitation Council.

“This is a joint responsibility. We really need to have a framework for 
splitting the bill responsibly…not based on an old model of donations 
from a few, but on a new model of collective contribution from a much 
larger group of countries,” said Røttingen. “This is solidarity in action.”

“We really hope that now countries, hopefully, will increase the 
contributions in the weeks and months to come [and] they will actually 
link this to a framework of fair financial contributions from everyone,” 
he added.

Member states were largely supportive of the financing framework 
launched on Tuesday.

“We are currently considering additional contributions and urge all 
partners, especially other G20 countries to step up their support for 
ACT A,” said Germany’s delegate. “In addition, we would welcome stronger 
involvement of the private sector…We have to work together to close this 
acute funding need.”

“From the UK, we welcome the new and prioritised strategy and the budget 
for 2021 and we must continue to optimise international and domestic 
resources,” said the UK’s representative. “For the UK’s G7 presidency, 
we are going to work with fellow G7 nations to drive an ambitious health 
agenda that exactly reflects these principles…on equitable and 
affordable access.”

Similarly, Italy, which will hold the G20 presidency in 2021, “stands 
ready to mobilise the political support needed for the ACT Accelerator 
and the COVAX facility to deliver concretely on the commitments 
undertaken within the G20 almost a year ago,” said Italy’s delegate.

Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor to the WHO Director General and lead for 
the ACT Accelerator, thanked member states for their “strong endorsement 
for the vision…in the strategic plan and budget for 2021. It sounds like 
that plan is right, the priorities are right and the budget is 
necessary,” he said.

Aylward also expressed gratitude to Japan for its announcement of 
additional contributions, and to the “UK and Italy, who committed their 
presidencies of the G7 and the G20 respectively to take forward the ACT 
A agenda.”

          Success of ACT Accelerator and COVAX Threatened

Meanwhile, Dr Tedros warned of the significant challenges and threats to 
both the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX facility.

“We have created a dose-sharing mechanism, set up rapid processes for 
the emergency use listing, set up indemnification and no-fault 
compensation mechanisms and completed readiness assessments in almost 
all AMC countries,” said Dr Tedros at the Council meeting.

However, while progress was made, the success of COVAX and the ACT 
Accelerator is threatened by the $27 billion financing gap, countries 
signing bilateral vaccine deals that compete with COVAX contracts, and 
current disruptions in vaccine manufacturing processes.

Tedros called on countries to donate vaccines and share doses instead of 
vaccinating lower-risk groups and called for pharmaceutical companies to 
establish partnerships to develop manufacturing capacities and deal with 
production obstructions.

“We need an urgent scale-up in manufacturing to increase the volume of 
vaccines. That means innovative partnerships including tech transfer, 
licensing and other mechanisms to address production bottlenecks,” said 
Dr Tedros.

Brazil’s delegate followed up on Tedros’ point and called for the 
Council to “move beyond principles and…talk about how to make vaccines 
available to everyone everywhere,” by expanding local vaccine production 
using licensing and coalition building.

Norway also expressed its support for using technology transfers and 
voluntary licensing to increase the global production capacity and 
stressed the importance of the equitable pricing of products.

“We call on pharma companies to implement pricing strategies that take 
countries’ different levels of ability to pay into account. Companies 
should agree cost plus prices with the COVAX facility for the countries 
eligible for the advanced market commitment,” said Norway’s delegate.

Additionally, taking a step to address the funding gap, Tedros “call[ed] 
on OECD and DAC countries to commit a proportion of stimulus financing 
to close the funding gap, and to take measures to unlock capital in 
multilateral development banks.”

          Shift in US Role On Council

The United States announced at the Council meeting that it would shift 
its role from observer to participant in the Council, making a 
commitment to multilateralism that follows its decision to rejoin the 
take part in COVAX 
This move was widely acknowledged and well-received by member states.

“As President Biden expressed on his first day in office, the United 
States will partner with the WHO and the entire UN system to respond to 
COVID-19, improve global health and health security, and build a better 
future for all people,” said the US’ delegate.

“I would like to begin by welcoming the United States of America to the 
ACT Accelerator,” said Dr Tedros in his opening remarks. “We’re glad to 
have your support and involvement, and we look forward to your 
partnership in ensuring that all countries enjoy equitable access to 
vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics against COVID-19.”



  Covid-19: fledgling vaccination programmes leave poorer nations and
  vulnerable groups behind

    Margaret Taylor

Tuesday 9 February 2021

As Western governments proceed with their Covid-19 vaccination 
programmes, there are growing concerns that so-called vaccine 
nationalism is leaving poorer countries struggling to protect their 
people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 49 richer 
states had delivered 39 million vaccine doses by mid-January while one 
unidentified poorer nation had administered just 25.

Much has been made of the suggestion that drug companies’ determination 
to protect their intellectual property (IP) rights is exacerbating the 
situation. In October, Indian and South African representatives asked 
the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive all IP rights 
related to the various vaccinations’ production.

      Related links

  * Pandemic accelerates need for comprehensive efforts to tackle child
  * /In-House Perspective:/ Profile – James Ford, General Counsel and
    Senior Vice President at GlaxoSmithKline
  * IBA Human Rights Law Committee

For Mustaqeem De Gama, a counsellor on South Africa’s permanent mission 
to the WTO, the waiver would ‘open space for further collaboration, for 
the transfer of technology and for more producers to come in to ensure 
that we have scalability in a much shorter period of time’.

      “Scale up is a huge barrier to entry. Even if you have a lab that
      can copy someone else’s [technology], you still have to find a way
      to mass produce it

*Jason Jardine*
Chair, IBA Emerging Intellectual Property Rights Subcommittee

Jason Jardine, Chair of the IBA Emerging Intellectual Property Rights 
Subcommittee and a partner at Knobbe Martens, believes the focus on IP 
is something of a red herring, given that none of the vaccines 
themselves have been patented.

Some of the manufacturers have shown a willingness to share the IP 
related to their production processes. Moderna has said it will not 
enforce any of its relevant patents ‘while the pandemic continues’ and 
BioNTech has begun using a facility owned by French rival Sanofi to 
speed up production.

But Jardine is sceptical that this could be replicated on anything like 
the scale required to dramatically accelerate the pace of the global 

‘Scale up is a huge barrier to entry’, he says. ‘Even if you have a lab 
that can copy someone else’s [technology], you still have to find a way 
to mass produce it.’

Jardine believes regulatory issues are more of a problem for developing 
nations than patents, with no government able to begin their own 
programme of inoculation until a vaccine has been passed by its 
regulators. For developing countries with poor regulatory infrastructure 
this can be problematic.

The WHO has sought to address that with the creation of an Emergency Use 
Listing, a process designed to ‘open the door for countries to expedite 
their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the 
vaccine’. So far only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been given 
emergency validation via the scheme.

The WHO has also sought to address problems of supply to developing 
nations by co-launching a scheme, Covax, that will deliver vaccines to 
low-income nations. Covax is funded by wealthier countries and aims to 
ensure an equitable distribution of vaccinations across nations.

Markus Beham, European Regional Forum Liaison Officer on the IBA Human 
Rights Law Committee and an assistant professor at the University of 
Passau, says the main issue with the programme is that it does not place 
any obligation on wealthier nations to take part, something that could 
ensure poorer countries continue to miss out.

‘Under Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and 
Cultural Rights there’s an obligation on states to take steps to improve 
environmental hygiene to prevent and control epidemics’, he says.

‘With Covax it’s telling that it’s not placed as an obligation on member 
states, but instead an encouragement to engage’, says Beham. ‘Ideally, 
there would be multi-national efforts, but there are only duties between 
states, not hard-law obligations.’

That is problematic, says Rohini Haar, a research fellow at the 
University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, because it 
leaves room for human rights violations at the hands of governments 
whose citizens are supposed to benefit from Covax. As a medical adviser 
to not-for-profit organisation Physicians for Human Rights, Haar says 
this is exemplified in the case of Syria.

‘The country is split into opposition-controlled and regime-controlled 
areas and Covax is supposed to hit all those populations that are not 
necessarily going to be hit by the government’, she says.

Haar explains that the WHO works with the regime to distribute the 
vaccine, but Syria’s President Assad is not engaging, making 
distribution ‘impossible’.

‘Half of Syria will be vaccinated and half will not. Without political 
will it will be very hard to overcome that’, she adds.

Thomas Wilson, Website Officer on the IBA Human Rights Law Committee and 
a partner at Vinson & Elkins, adds that even in countries whose human 
rights records are apparently sound, the way governments are 
prioritising roll-out programmes is creating human rights issues too.

Noting that in the US priority is being given to those aged 65 and over, 
Wilson says there is a need to ‘think more broadly’ about at-risk 
populations which do not fit that age criteria.

Wilson highlights that the Hispanic population, because of where they 
are economically, tend to be hourly workers who must go out to work. 
‘The government is doing everyone over 65, but if someone [in that 
group] is working remotely and not going out much are they in as much 
danger as a Hispanic worker in their late 50s who doesn’t have a choice 
about going out to work and lives in a community where quarantine is 

Melinda Taylor, Asia Pacific Region Liaison Officer on the IBA Human 
Rights Law Committee, agrees, noting that groups such as asylum seekers 
and prison detainees, neither of which are able to safely isolate, are 
also being excluded from high-priority lists.

For Taylor, there’s an obligation to engage in positive discrimination 
to ensure that vulnerable groups can access the vaccine.

‘Asylum seekers are extremely vulnerable; detainees are not necessarily 
being put in the upper echelons of prioritisation, but they don’t have 
the choice of socially distancing’, she says. ‘If you’re going to exert 
control over people then you need to ensure the conditions of that control.’

As vaccine supply remains limited even in countries that have bought 
large quantities, Taylor says ensuring the most vulnerable receive it 
would require governments to prioritise various human rights, something 
they appear unable or unwilling to do.

‘It’s very difficult to prioritise a human right’, she says. ‘States 
have to set out their criteria transparently and there needs to be a 
process of review where people can contest decisions and demonstrate 
special circumstances, but I haven’t seen that happening.’

Whether governments will factor in these considerations as their 
immunisation and aid programmes continue to develop remains to be seen. 
If they do not, they run the risk of allowing the virus’ spread to 
continue by dint of only eliminating it in certain areas.

‘Ultimately these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the 
restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering’, 
says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s Director-General.

On 2/5/2021 8:03 AM, Patrick Bond wrote:
> (/Independent OnLine/ journalist Shannon Ebrahim's key points:
>   * China has voiced its support for the proposal and Nigeria’s Ngozi
>     Okonjo-Iweala, who is selected to be the next director-general of
>     the WTO, is also supportive of the waiver. The WHO, Unaids,
>     Unitaid and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
>     are also fully in support of the waiver.
>   * the following countries are among those who have been blocking the
>     process so far: US, EU, UK, Switzerland, Norway, Australia and Canada.
>   * In June last year Remdesivir was priced at $2340 for a five-day
>     treatment course, but research has shown that the drug could be
>     manufactured at $9 a treatment...the corporation received $70
>     million in public funding to develop the drug.
>   * All the main Western vaccine manufacturers – Pfizer-BioNtech,
>     Moderna, and AstraZeneca – received more than $5 billion in public
>     funding to develop their vaccines.
>   * Ninety-six percent of the doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine
>     have been bought by the West, while 100% of the Moderna vaccines
>     are exclusively going to rich countries.
>   * only one in 10 people in 70 low-income countries are likely to get
>     vaccinated this year.
> Other allies to the fore: the governments of Pakistan, Mozambique and 
> Bolivia signed on as co-sponsors of the waiver proposal.
> Benny Kuruvilla:
>     "Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission,
>     argued in November that the best strategy against the virus was
>     geopolitical cooperation -- not competition. Yet her ongoing
>     fiasco with AstraZeneca has exposed the EU's hypocrisy -- as the
>     EU threatened to invoke the same emergency provisions on behalf of
>     Europeans that the EU are currently opposing for citizens of the
>     global South."
> Another report on the vanity of insider activists - who seem to be 
> well-meaning /jam-maker/ lobbyists but without too many 
> battle-hardened /tree-shakers/ outside:
>     "Activists hoped that recent events might cause the European Union
>     and the U.S. to rethink their earlier opposition. The EU has moved
>     to put vaccine export controls in place out of concern over its
>     own vaccine shortfalls — a situation that lower-income countries
>     believed might make the bloc more sympathetic to their position.
>     And activists, encouraged by promises from new U.S. President Joe
>     Biden’s administration to let no boundaries get in the way of
>     American vaccine access, were hopeful he might bring the same
>     attitude to international access. But while there are reports that
>     the EU and the U.S. expressed more openness to discussions on the
>     issue, both continue to obstruct the proposal."
> Of course, U.S. and EU politicians are obstructing the world's attack 
> on Big Pharma profiteering: that's what leaders of imperialist 
> countries are hard-wired to do.
> But it's also important to be frank about the weakness of 
> countervailing forces: /unlike 20 years ago when there was 
> extraordinary pressure from AIDS treatment activists and healthcare 
> workers that led to a 180-degree opposite outcome in the WTO TRIPS, 
> /with generic AIDS medicines are so widely available now that life 
> expectancy has soared - from 52 in 2005 to 65 today in South Africa 
> alone - today's vaccine-rights activists have been practically invisible.
> That set-piece protest in Pretoria on Tuesday - which as far as I can 
> tell only got a tiny bit of Twitter 
> <https://twitter.com/MSF_southafrica/status/1356602354611716096> 
> attention and a mention in Ebrahim's /IOL /column today - was 
> extremely weak; albeit under conditions of social distancing, it was 
> not easy to get kombis out to these distant embassies. Still, there's 
> a U.S. consulate in Sandton and it's been targeted scores of times by 
> anti-imperialists. Why so little street heat from the C19 People's 
> Coalition and their allies? We can express moral outrage online as 
> much as we like, but there really needs to be much more serious 
> campaigning and visibility on this issue - /which won't go away, will 
> it, not until Covid-19 has completely ebbed./)
> ***
>   Time to prioritise lives, not patents
>     Move away from global vaccine apartheid towards public good in all
>     countries
>   * The Mercury
>   * 5 Feb 2021
>   * Ebrahim is the group foreign editor for Independent Media CANCER
> DOCTORS without Borders has called on all governments to support the 
> request to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the intellectual 
> property (IP) waiver for all countries until herd immunity is achieved.
> This proposal was made to the WTO by India and South Africa in 
> October, to allow all countries to neither grant nor enforce patents 
> relating to Covid-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and technology for 
> the duration of the pandemic.
> Usually, the 164-member WTO has to agree by consensus unless they 
> agree to proceed to a vote, which is exceptional. Currently, 100 WTO 
> member states – the vast majority – support the proposal put forward 
> by India and South Africa, which has been cosponsored by eSwatini, 
> Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Egypt and Mongolia.
> China has voiced its support for the proposal and Nigeria’s Ngozi 
> Okonjo-Iweala, who is selected to be the next director-general of the 
> WTO, is also supportive of the waiver. The WHO, Unaids, Unitaid and 
> the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights are also fully in 
> support of the waiver. It is a handful of rich countries who are 
> blocking the waiver to date, although yesterday the next round of 
> TRIPS Council negotiations on the India-South Africa proposal began.
> According to Doctors without Borders, the following countries are 
> among those who have been blocking the process so far: US, EU, UK, 
> Switzerland, Norway, Australia and Canada.
> The irony is that many of these countries have far more vaccines than 
> they need (some have enough to vaccinate their populations five times 
> over) while they are preventing those that need the Covid-19 vaccines 
> the most, from getting it.
> The reason that these countries put forward for blocking the waiver is 
> that they don’t want to allow broad exceptions on intellectual 
> property rights even in an exceptional crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.
> They prefer voluntary agreements between countries and pharmaceutical 
> companies. But such agreements would involve lengthy bureaucratic 
> processes, if they can be agreed on at all, while millions of people 
> are dying from Covid-19 worldwide in what is a global health emergency.
> WTO members can seek a waiver from certain obligations on WTO treaties 
> in exceptional circumstances if members agree. They can choose not to 
> enforce intellectual property rights on patents, industrial designs, 
> copyright and trade secrets. This was done after much haggling two 
> decades ago when a TRIPS exemption was agreed to in order to fight 
> HIV/Aids.
> Today’s pandemic is claiming far more lives and overwhelming health 
> systems in most countries, which makes achievement of the waiver urgent.
> On Tuesday, civil society organisations in Tshwane and Delhi delivered 
> letters to the ambassadors of some of the developed countries who are 
> blocking the waiver, in an attempt to apply pressure on these 
> countries to change their position for the good of all the countries 
> of the world.
> The tragedy will be that if the waiver does not succeed, the virus 
> will keep mutating, and spreading even to those countries that are 
> blocking the waiver, and the rolled-out vaccines may not even be 
> highly effective for new variants of the virus which emerge over time.
> What it comes down to is the greed of the pharmaceutical companies 
> that stand to make millions off Covid drugs and vaccines, and these 
> companies have made no attempt to ensure broad access to life-saving 
> products. Gilead, for example, is the patent holder for Remdesivir – 
> one of the only drugs approved to treat Covid-19. The way the drug has 
> been licensed, it excludes half of the world’s population from 
> benefiting from price-lowering generics.
> In June last year Remdesivir was priced at $2340 for a five-day 
> treatment course, but research has shown that the drug could be 
> manufactured at $9 a treatment. Such elevated prices are indefensible 
> when the corporation received $70 million in public funding to develop 
> the drug.
> All the main Western vaccine manufacturers – Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, 
> and AstraZeneca – received more than $5 billion in public funding to 
> develop their vaccines.
> Ninety-six percent of the doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine have 
> been bought by the West, while 100% of the Moderna vaccines are 
> exclusively going to rich countries.
> The tragedy is that no one is safe until we are all safe, but only one 
> in 10 people in 70 low-income countries are likely to get vaccinated 
> this year.
> It is time for the developed countries to move away from what has 
> become a global vaccine apartheid, and instead play a responsible 
> leadership role to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are a global public 
> good. The consequences of not doing so will be that the pandemic is 
> not brought under control for years to come.
> ***
> https://www.devex.com/news/in-brief-rich-countries-block-waiver-on-covid-19-vaccine-ip-99077
>   Rich countries block waiver on COVID-19 vaccine IP
> /By Andrew Green <https://www.devex.com/news/authors/1439357> // 04 
> February 2021/
> Rich countries continued to block a proposal from South Africa and 
> India to waive intellectual property protections on COVID-19 
> <https://www.devex.com/focus/covid-19> drugs and vaccines during a new 
> round of talks Thursday at the World Trade Organization 
> <https://www.devex.com/organizations/world-trade-organization-wto-44694>.
> Companies have been able to leverage global intellectual property and 
> patent protections to essentially exercise monopolies over new 
> COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Activists argue that this is one of 
> the primary reasons for the mounting imbalance in vaccine distribution.
> *At WTO, a battle for access to COVID-19 vaccines 
> <https://www.devex.com/news/at-wto-a-battle-for-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-98787>*
> A proposal introduced by South Africa and India seeks to waive 
> intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines and other 
> technologies. Devex looks at why some high-income countries are trying 
> to stop it from being passed.
> South Africa and India introduced the waiver proposal in October 
> calling for those protections to be suspended until herd immunity is 
> achieved, drawing the support of more than 100 countries. But nations 
> home to major pharmaceutical companies, such as the United States, the 
> United Kingdom, and Switzerland, have repeatedly delayed it from 
> advancing beyond a council that discusses trade-related restrictions. 
> They argue that the exemptions would not actually help, since many 
> countries lack the manufacturing capacity to produce the vaccines.
> *Why this matters: *Supporters of the waiver said its adoption would 
> be a crucial step in righting the imbalance in global vaccine 
> distribution, allowing additional manufacturers to build or convert 
> infrastructure, ramp up production, and increase global demand — 
> particularly for the world’s lower-income countries.
> *What changed:* Not much. Activists hoped that recent events might 
> cause the European Union and the U.S. to rethink their earlier 
> opposition. The EU has moved to put vaccine export controls in place 
> out of concern over its own vaccine shortfalls — a situation that 
> lower-income countries believed might make the bloc more sympathetic 
> to their position.
> And activists, encouraged by promises from new U.S. President Joe 
> Biden’s administration to let no boundaries get in the way of American 
> vaccine access, were hopeful he might bring the same attitude to 
> international access. But while there are reports that the EU and the 
> U.S. expressed more openness to discussions on the issue, both 
> continue to obstruct the proposal.
> ***
> https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/miscellaneous/covid-19/without-sufficient-vaccine-doses-brazil-remains-silent-in-wto-to-prevent-crisis-with-india/
>   Without Sufficient Vaccine Doses, Brazil Remains Silent in WTO to
>   Prevent Crisis With India
> Brasilia, along with wealthy countries, has spent months blocking a 
> proposal from India and South Africa to suspend vaccine patents and 
> allow the immunizer to be produced in its generic version.
> By
> Oliver Mason 
> <https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/author/oliver-mason/>
> -
> February 4, 2021
> <https://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Friotimesonline.com%2Fbrazil-news%2Fmiscellaneous%2Fcovid-19%2Fwithout-sufficient-vaccine-doses-brazil-remains-silent-in-wto-to-prevent-crisis-with-india%2F><https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Without+Sufficient+Vaccine+Doses%2C+Brazil+Remains+Silent+in+WTO+to+Prevent+Crisis+With+India&url=https%3A%2F%2Friotimesonline.com%2Fbrazil-news%2Fmiscellaneous%2Fcovid-19%2Fwithout-sufficient-vaccine-doses-brazil-remains-silent-in-wto-to-prevent-crisis-with-india%2F&via=TheRioTimes><https://www.linkedin.com/shareArticle?mini=true&url=https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/miscellaneous/covid-19/without-sufficient-vaccine-doses-brazil-remains-silent-in-wto-to-prevent-crisis-with-india/&title=Without+Sufficient+Vaccine+Doses%2C+Brazil+Remains+Silent+in+WTO+to+Prevent+Crisis+With+India><mailto:?subject=Without 
> Sufficient Vaccine Doses, Brazil Remains Silent in WTO to Prevent 
> Crisis With 
> India&body=https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/miscellaneous/covid-19/without-sufficient-vaccine-doses-brazil-remains-silent-in-wto-to-prevent-crisis-with-india/>
> RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - In a change of stance faced with its 
> vulnerability regarding vaccine supply, the Brazilian Ministry of 
> Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty) chose to remain silent during a meeting at 
> the World Trade Organization (WTO) 
> <https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/miscellaneous/covid-19/brazil-target-of-protests-in-india-for-vetoing-vaccine-patent-waiver/> 
> on Thursday, February 4th, which discussed India's proposal to allow 
> the breach of patents on immunizers.
> ***
> http://www.themorning.lk/sri-lanka-india-pakistan-join-80-nations-to-slam-eus-vaccine-controls/
>   Sri Laka, India & Pakistan join 80 nations to slam EU’s vaccine controls
> February 5, 2021 by Mihi Perera 
> <http://www.themorning.lk/author/mihiamavi/><http://www.themorning.lk/sri-lanka-india-pakistan-join-80-nations-to-slam-eus-vaccine-controls/#disqus_thread> 
> At least 80 countries including Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan on 
> Thursday had criticised the European Union (EU) for its recent 
> decision of introducing export controls on Covid-19 vaccines, Economic 
> Times reported today.
> It said the issue came up at a meeting on intellectual property rights 
> at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in which the developed countries 
> again refused to support a joint proposal by India and South Africa 
> for a temporary waiver in global IPR rules to ensure uninterrupted 
> flow of medicines, vaccines and medical equipment among countries amid 
> the ongoing pandemic.
> The EU has introduced export controls on Covid-19 vaccines made in the 
> region under a transparency mechanism that gives its member countries 
> powers to deny vaccine exports if the company making them has not 
> honoured its existing contracts with the bloc.
> At the WTO, members who support the waiver proposal, have termed the 
> current vaccine famine an artificial one that has emerged from the 
> quest to perpetuate monopoly power using IP, especially trade secrets.
> South Africa insisted on a text-based approach in order to find a 
> landing zone to operationalise the waiver in the shortest possible 
> time amid lives being lost globally due to the pandemic.
> Terming the EU’s measure an alarming one, these developing and least 
> developed countries said that opposition to the IP waiver is by those 
> who have secretly bought up their way to available production and 
> continue to collude with pharmaceutical companies under the veil of 
> secrecy, according to a Geneva-based official.
> “The developed countries dismissed to engage in text-based discussions 
> on the proposal. They made it clear once again that they will not 
> support the IP waiver,” the official said.
> India and South Africa have said that text-based discussions would 
> allow manufacturers and governments to have greater freedom to operate 
> so as to leverage the global capacity that already exists. Their joint 
> proposal is co-sponsored by Kenya, Eswatini, Pakistan, Mozambique and 
> Bolivia.
> ***
>   EU parliamentarians back India-South Africa's proposal for IPR
>   waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents
>       Media reports are calling the India-South African proposal as a
>       "nuclear option" and it is already leading a divide in the
>       already divided group.
> Sidhant Sibal <https://www.dnaindia.com/authors/sidhant-sibal>
>         DNA webdesk
> Updated: Feb 5, 2021, 07:06 AM IST
> European Union Parliamentarians have strongly backed India and South 
> Africa's joint proposal at the World Trade Organization for a waiver 
> on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccine patents in a 
> letter to EU leadership. The letter by 14 EU MEPs or members of the 
> European Parliamentarians has called for a moratorium on the 
> suspension of COVID-19 vaccine patents.
> "South Africa and India sent a joint proposal to the World Trade 
> Organization requesting an exemption from patents and other 
> intellectual property rights concerning drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, 
> personal protective equipment, and other medical technologies 
> throughout the pandemic and this proposal is still pending," read the 
> two-page letter.
> The letter seen by WION has asked European Union to "support for India 
> and South Africa's proposal at the WTO" with the aim to "guarantee 
> widespread and equitable access to vaccines on a global scale."
>       DNA Exclusive: Poland lauds India's vaccine diplomacy, hopes for
>       early air transport bubble
>       <https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-dna-exclusive-poland-lauds-india-s-vaccine-diplomacy-hopes-for-early-air-transport-bubble-2873162>
> WTO had met in December to take up the proposal for waiver of 
> intellectual property over coronavirus vaccines but failed to arrive 
> at the decision over stiff opposition from United States, European 
> Union and others. The proposal for waiver on IP rights for the 
> vaccines means affordable access to everyone even as countries try to 
> vaccinate their population
> The letter by the EU MEP has been sent to President of the European 
> Council Charles Michel, President of the EU Commission Ursula von der 
> Leyen, EU high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, 
> European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and European 
> Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Honorable Stella Kyriakides.
> The MEPs who have sent the letter are--Andrea Cozzolino, Maria Arena, 
> Eva Kaili, Alex Agius Saliba, Bogusław Liberadzki, Tiemo Woelken, 
> Milan Brglez, Patrizia Toia, Irene Tinagli, Pierfrancesco Majorino, 
> Pina Picierno, Giuliano Pisapia, Massimiliano Smeriglio, Franco Roberti.
> The development comes amid the ongoing tiff between EU and AstraZeneca 
> over vaccine supplies. Media reports are calling the India-South 
> African proposal as a "nuclear option" and it is already leading a 
> divide in the already divided group. In fact, the Italian Parliament 
> had backed the proposal as far as December. A patent pause amid the 
> coronavirus pandemic looks a humane action but for many license 
> holders would see it as a loss, and would call for a pushback against it.
> ***
>     Revoke Patents, Defeat the Pandemic & Deliver Global Justice
> 4 February 2021
> Inter Press Service
> <http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/>
> By Benny Kuruvilla
> New Delhi, India — /UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on 
> Twitter: “We must get to work to make sure the vaccine is available to 
> everyone, everywhere. With this pandemic, none of us are safe until 
> all of us are safe.”/
> As the pandemic spills into its second year, the WHO tracker lists 
> eight Covid-19 vaccines already in public use. Several others are 
> awaiting regulatory approval. This is unprecedented in vaccine history 
> and with effective international coordination, it presents the global 
> community with a real chance for both pandemic and economic recovery 
> in 2021.
> Instead, however, the world is on the brink of a 'catastrophic moral 
> failure' on vaccine distribution, to use the words of WHO 
> director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Countries are mired in a 
> stalemate of 'vaccine nationalism', with the rich world having secured 
> contracts to vaccinate their entire populations thrice over by the end 
> of this year, while 85 poor countries will not get vaccine rollouts 
> until early 2023, if at all.
> This hoarding of vaccines by rich countries for profit constitutes 
> 'vaccine apartheid', which not only grants rich countries an unjust 
> privilege but also naively approaches the pandemic as a national or 
> regional problem, despite its obviously global nature.
> And as a recent study showed, vaccine nationalism could cost rich 
> countries alone USD 4.5 trillion because of its global economic 
> interlinkages.
> *European hypocrisy*
> But even with the imbalance already strongly in its favour, the 
> European Union lashed out at pharma giant AstraZeneca when the company 
> announced it would be delivering fewer than half the 80 million jabs 
> it promised by March 2021, disrupting the bloc's plans to vaccinate 70 
> per cent of its adult population by the end of the summer.
> Meanwhile, a large majority of poor countries -- most of the world's 
> population -- will be lucky if they can vaccinate even 10 per cent of 
> their populations by the end of the year.
> In October 2020, South Africa and India moved a proposal at the WTO 
> for a TRIPS waiver on patents, industrial designs and trade secrets 
> that restrict access to vaccines and medicines or manufacturing of 
> medical products essential to combat Covid-19.
> Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, argued in 
> November that the best strategy against the virus was geopolitical 
> cooperation -- not competition. Yet her ongoing fiasco with 
> AstraZeneca has exposed the EU's hypocrisy -- as the EU threatened to 
> invoke the same emergency provisions on behalf of Europeans that the 
> EU are currently opposing for citizens of the global South.
> At the international level, rich countries and pharmaceutical 
> corporations hide behind the innocuously named but disastrously 
> enforced regime of 'intellectual property'. Since its inception in 
> 1995, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property 
> Rights (TRIPS) has arguably been the World Trade Organisation's 
> weakest link.
> While TRIPS paradoxically advanced corporate monopoly rights, the rest 
> of WTO agreements exhorted competition, deregulation and free trade.
> *AIDS: the global health crisis of the 1990s*
> When the HIV/AIDS epidemic was raging in the late 1990s, the 
> prevailing cost of patented antiretroviral (ARV) drugs was over USD 
> 12,000 per patient, per year. South African president Nelson Mandela 
> led a worldwide revolt for access to affordable, lifesaving ARV drugs 
> by overriding TRIPS provisions and launching a frontal attack on big 
> pharma. In response to this call, the Indian generic drug manufacturer 
> Cipla stunned the world in February 2001 by introducing a drug to 
> fight AIDS at less than USD 1 per day.
> Buoyed by this victory, developing countries fought off US and EU 
> opposition in pushing for the November 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS, 
> which underlined the right to public health and access to medicines.
> Two decades and another global health crisis later, a similar script 
> is being played out by the same set of actors.
> *Publicly funded innovation*
> In October 2020, South Africa and India moved a proposal at the WTO 
> for a TRIPS waiver on patents, industrial designs and trade secrets 
> that restrict access to vaccines and medicines or manufacturing of 
> medical products essential to combat Covid-19.
> The proposal has now gained heft with sponsorship by Kenya, Pakistan, 
> Venezuela, Egypt and Bolivia, along with the endorsement of nearly 100 
> countries at the WTO. The WHO, UNAIDS and several UN special 
> rapporteurs are also backing the waiver.
> Just like twenty years ago, a powerful cabal of rich countries led by 
> the EU, US, UK and Japan are blocking the waiver. They argue that a 
> waiver on patents will undermine innovation and that the TRIPS already 
> offers flexibilities for public health.
> The waiver can play a critical role in rapid expansion of vaccine 
> supplies.
> Both these arguments are flawed.
> A study of 210 drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration 
> (FDA) between 2010 and 2016 showed that public funding from the 
> National Institutes of Health (NIH) was the greatest contributor to 
> research and innovation.
> A more recent study showed that governments have allocated at least 
> €88bn to Covid-19 vaccine companies in 2020, demonstrating the 
> marginal role of corporate funding in innovation.
> *Rich countries should support the TRIPS waiver*
> Developing countries have long argued at the WTO that stringent 
> provisions in the TRIPS have made it virtually impossible to use the 
> existing flexibilities, and any attempt to invoke flexibilities 
> results in arm-twisting and retaliatory trade pressures from powerful 
> members such as the EU and US.
> The waiver can play a critical role in rapid expansion of vaccine 
> supplies. Given that the expertise to manufacture the AstraZeneca 
> vaccine is reasonably widespread, production can be expanded in firms 
> across the developing world.
> In India, its production has been licensed only to the Serum Institute 
> of India, which is struggling to keep up with demand. It is a scandal 
> that while AstraZeneca is charging the EU less than USD 2 per dose, 
> Thailand -- a far poorer country -- is being charged around USD 5 per 
> dose. Locating production domestically will also help countries to 
> bring down costs substantively.
> If the US and EU are serious about contributing to a cooperative 
> global effort on vaccines, they should support the waiver proposal 
> when it comes up for discussions at the WTO on 4 February.
> The pandemic is a global problem that requires a global solution, not 
> a few national ones. It is of the utmost importance that all countries 
> take quick and decisive action to put people and health before 
> profits. Only then can we defeat this pandemic.
> /Source: International Politics and Society. Launched in January 2017, 
> the online journal highlights global inequality and brings new 
> perspectives on issues such as the environment, European integration, 
> international relations, social democracy and development policy./
> /Based in the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's Brussels office, 
> International Politics and Society aims to bring the European 
> political debate to a global audience, as well as providing a platform 
> for voices from the Global South. Contributors include leading 
> journalists, academics and politicians, as well policy officers 
> working throughout the FES's global network./
> /*Benny Kuruvilla* heads the India office of Focus on the Global South 
> <http://www.focusweb.org/>, an Asia-based think tank providing 
> analysis and building alternatives for just social, economic and 
> political change./
> /***
> /
> https://www.democracynow.org/
>   “Viruses Know No Borders”: In Push for Global Vaccine Equity, U.S.
>   AIDS Program Offers Blueprint
> StoryFebruary 04, 2021Watch Full Show 
> <https://www.democracynow.org/shows/2021/2/4?autostart=true>
>  *
>     Wafaa El-Sadr
>     <https://www.democracynow.org/appearances/wafaa_el_sadr>
>     director of the ICAP at Columbia University and a professor of
>     epidemiology and medicine at the Columbia Mailman School of Public
>     Health.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>           Links
>   * “The World Is Desperate for More Covid vaccines”
>     <https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/opinion/world-covid-vaccines.html>
> As the U.S. COVID death toll tops 450,000, the Biden administration is 
> attempting to ramp up its vaccination campaign to slow the spread of 
> new coronavirus variants. Meanwhile, health experts warn any 
> vaccination progress in the United States will be threatened without 
> global vaccine equity. “We need to, as quickly as possible, expand 
> access to the vaccines, both in this country, in the United States, as 
> well as around the world,” says Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of the 
> ICAP at Columbia University and professor of epidemiology and medicine 
> at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. She argues that the 
> U.S. needs to do more to supply the world with COVID-19 vaccines, as 
> it did with HIV medications. “This is a model that can be emulated at 
> this point in time in recognition of the fact that viruses know no 
> borders.”
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>           Transcript
> This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has passed 450,000. 
> Over 3,900 people died of the disease just Wednesday alone. In another 
> major milestone, data gathered by the COVID Tracking Project shows 
> vaccinations in the United States have eclipsed the number of people 
> who have been infected with the coronavirus. More than 27 million have 
> received a first shot, and nearly 6 million have been given both 
> vaccine doses. This comes the Biden administration says it still 
> expects to reach its target of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 
> days, and the number of deaths and people hospitalized continues to 
> fall. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Dr. 
> Rochelle Walensky, warned Wednesday new COVID-19 variants may reverse 
> this trend.
>     *DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY:* Although we have seen declines in cases
>     and admissions and a recent slowing of deaths, cases remain
>     extraordinarily high, still twice as high as the peak number of
>     cases over the summer. And the continued proliferation of
>     variants, variants that likely have increased transmissibility,
>     that spread more easily, threatens to reverse these recent trends.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* As multiple new strains of the coronavirus spread 
> across the United States, the government’s top infectious disease 
> expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Monday people must be vaccinated as 
> quickly as possible to stop more mutations from emerging.
>     *DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:* You need to get vaccinated when it becomes
>     available as quickly and as expeditiously as possible throughout
>     the country. And the reason for that is that there is a fact that
>     permeates virology, and that is that viruses cannot mutate if they
>     don’t replicate.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* This comes as health experts warn any vaccination 
> progress in the United States will be threatened without global 
> vaccine equity.
> For more, we’re joined by Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology 
> and medicine at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and 
> director of ICAP at Columbia University. She recently co-authored an 
> op-ed 
> <https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/opinion/world-covid-vaccines.html> 
> in /The New York Times/ headlined “The World Is Desperate for More 
> Covid Vaccines,” that argues, “Two decades ago, the U.S. launched a 
> program to help supply the world with H.I.V. medication. It should 
> take a similar approach to Covid.”
> Doctor, welcome to /Democracy Now!/ It’s great to have you with us. I 
> wanted to start with this watershed moment that we are in, facing the 
> race between the vaccines and the virus. Explain what’s happening.
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* Well, thank you. First of all, thank you very 
> much for having me today.
> I think we are exactly at this watershed moment because what we have 
> is the potential for garnering the benefits of the vaccines we have 
> discovered thus far, while at the same time we’re also seeing the 
> growth in terms of the numbers of new COVID cases, as well as also the 
> identification of these new variants, these new mutations in the 
> virus, that potentially could threaten the effectiveness of even our 
> vaccines.
> So I think what this means is that we have to do two things at the 
> same time. We need to, as quickly as possible, expand access to the 
> vaccines, both in this country, in the United States, as well as also 
> around the world. That’s number one. And number two, we must continue 
> to make every effort to stop transmission from one person to the next, 
> because this is exactly what generates these mutations, these new 
> variants. And that must continue to be done by the usual public health 
> preventive measures that we are all familiar with. The physical 
> distancing, the masking is critically important, avoiding large 
> congregations of people, avoiding socializing at this point in time. 
> So, I think we have to be working on these two pathways: scale up of 
> vaccines locally and globally, and at the same time do everything we 
> can to stop transmission of the virus.
> *NERMEEN SHAIKH:* Dr. El-Sadr, you talked about vaccine access, the 
> importance of vaccine access, in this /New York Times/ op-ed 
> <https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/opinion/world-covid-vaccines.html>, 
> where you point out that it was Dr. Fauci himself — regarding the HIV 
> and AIDS virus, it was Dr. Fauci at the time who persuaded 
> then-President George W. Bush to start PEPFAR, the President’s 
> Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, that made AIDS/HIV medication 
> accessible to large numbers of people around the world, saving up to 
> 18 million lives, as you write. What is it that you’re advocating the 
> Biden administration do to enable access globally to the COVID 
> vaccines in a similar way?
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* Yes, I think we do have this historic precedent 
> that I think is probably one of — people do recognize that PEPFAR, the 
> global HIV program that’s supported by the United States government, 
> is probably one of the most successful ever foreign assistance 
> programs, that has received bipartisan support for decades now. And I 
> think this is a model that can be emulated at this point in time in 
> recognition of the fact that viruses know no borders, and that what 
> happens in a country in sub-Saharan Africa has — with regards to 
> COVID, has an impact on what happens right here in our own country.
> So, the model is the importance of prioritizing the procurement, the 
> support for the development of these vaccines around the world so that 
> they can actually reach the largest numbers of people possible, 
> particularly in low- and middle-income countries. So it’s both making 
> available the vaccines themselves or making available the technology 
> that supports the development of these vaccines, at the same time also 
> investment, investing the resources to be able to support vaccination 
> programs. We know that you need the vaccines, obviously, but we also 
> need to have effective, large-scale vaccination programs in order to 
> get the benefits of these vaccines anywhere.
> *NERMEEN SHAIKH:* Dr. El-Sadr, you also say in the same piece 
> <https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/opinion/world-covid-vaccines.html> 
> that the mRNA vaccines, which both Moderna and Pfizer use, are easier 
> and faster to manufacture than most other vaccine technologies. But, 
> of course, these vaccines are extremely difficult to transport and to 
> store, given the temperatures at which they have to be kept. Could you 
> talk about what you think — I mean, the Russia vaccine, Sputnik V, has 
> just been shown to have 92% efficacy. There are other vaccines that 
> developing countries are attempting to access, the China vaccines, 
> Sinopharm, Sinovac. How easy or difficult is it, given the 
> technologies those vaccines use, to manufacture and produce and 
> disseminate widely and quickly?
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* I think, in the end, we’re going to need really a 
> mix of different types of vaccines. And it depends, really, on the 
> setting. There are some settings where it is quite feasible to be able 
> to keep some of these mRNA vaccines available, if there are freezers, 
> for example, refrigerators and so on. And then there are other 
> settings where it is going to be very difficult because of the lack of 
> these kinds of resources. So, in the end, I think it’s going to depend 
> on the setting and the location within different countries and so on.
> So I do think we need to be flexible. We need to be cognizant of the 
> realities on the ground and do the very best that we can to enable 
> that, in the end, countries would have different options, that they 
> can then seek whatever option fits best within their reality and that 
> fits best within their own context. I think there’s not going to be 
> one answer, but I think there needs to be work on all fronts to 
> enable, ultimately, that people from these countries have access to 
> the vaccine, because it is the right thing to do, but it also is in 
> the self-interest of our own country, as well.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, can you address the issue of those 
> concerned about the vaccine? A new study 
> <https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_020321/> 
> has come out today from Monmouth University that says in the United 
> States maybe half the people plan to get vaccinated as soon as they 
> can, but a quarter say they never will. We see very little information 
> about negative side effects of these vaccines, though millions have 
> gotten them. Would it help people to believe more in the vaccine if we 
> heard about the thousands of, well, complaints and concerns that 
> people have with the vaccine?
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* I think that, absolutely, I think we are all very 
> — as public health professionals and researchers, we’re very concerned 
> about what has been called vaccine hesitancy, which is — it could be 
> because simply people don’t have the accurate information about the 
> vaccine itself. So that’s very important, just disseminating 
> information about the vaccine and how it was developed and what it 
> does and what it doesn’t do.
> I think another aspect of hesitancy sometimes is because of a legacy 
> of mistrust, for example, among certain groups of our own population 
> and global populations in terms of mistrust of government, mistrust of 
> research. And for that, we need to engage individuals from these same 
> communities, trusted messengers, trusted champions, who can talk to 
> their peers about what the vaccines do and what they don’t do.
> We also need, at the same time, to also share information as 
> information arises, in terms of any side effects from these vaccines 
> and the magnitude of such side effects. I think it’s really important 
> to be transmitting the information, thinking about what are the best 
> channels for transmitting the information. And very important is being 
> very transparent about the information that we have.
> We’re very fortunate that, thus far, with all of the vaccines for 
> which we’ve seen results, have been, first of all, remarkably 
> effective — they work — and also have been remarkably safe. The safety 
> profile has been very comforting, and I think that’s really of great 
> importance.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* So, why do you think it is, Dr. El-Sadr, that perhaps 
> up to a third of healthcare professionals say they will not take the 
> vaccine? That does not inspire confidence. And what is the reasoning?
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* There are multiple reasons for this. I think, 
> again, healthcare workers are not — are also a part of our society, 
> our community. And there are, again, many people who are from certain 
> subsets of our communities, particularly amongst African Americans, 
> for example, Hispanics and Latinx populations in this country, who, 
> because of the legacy I mentioned, the legacy of mistrust and prior 
> abuses in research, are leery of anything that comes from the 
> government, including these very valuable vaccines.
> And I think it’s going to take a lot of work for us to be able to gain 
> their trust and keep sharing the information. But most importantly, 
> beyond the knowledge, it is really reaching people from the same 
> communities who can then talk about their own experiences, why they 
> were vaccinated, and then demonstrate to others that it is in their 
> interest and the interests of their families and communities to be 
> vaccinated. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we need to be 
> working on this very diligently, engaging with the communities that 
> have the fear of these vaccines, so that we can gain their trust. It 
> will take a lot of work, a lot of partnerships, a lot of commitment, 
> and being willing to listen to their concerns and answer their concerns.
> *NERMEEN SHAIKH:* And, Dr. El-Sadr, as I’m sure you’re aware, vaccine 
> hesitancy is not just a problem in the U.S., but also across the 
> world. France has one of the highest rates, but also places like South 
> Africa and Kuwait. So, could you talk about how views of vaccination 
> and why views of vaccination have changed in this way, and what the 
> implications are if large numbers of people, or even significant 
> numbers of people, around the world refuse the vaccine when it’s made 
> available to them?
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* I think that’s an issue, globally, of great 
> concern. Like you said, it’s not just in the U.S.; it’s in almost 
> every corner of this globe. And people are — you know, when you think 
> about, when you ask individuals, they’re on a spectrum. There are 
> people who are ready and willing to get vaccinated. As soon as they’re 
> eligible, they’re going to really be at the front of the line. They 
> are convinced. They’re ready to act. And then, on the other extreme 
> are people who simply don’t believe in vaccines, for a variety of 
> different reasons — vaccines overall, not just this COVID vaccine. And 
> then, most people are somewhere in the middle. And they are seeking 
> answers to their questions. They are seeking reassurance. They’re 
> seeking — they’re looking for others like them to have been vaccinated.
> And I think we’re now focusing on these individuals who are on the 
> spectrum of these people who have concerns, who have issues, who have 
> certain beliefs, and working with them diligently to try to overcome 
> some of the myths they may believe, and also to try, like I said, to 
> engage people whom they trust. This is very important. What I’m seeing 
> now is some of the narratives, storytelling around the vaccines, 
> people who are standing up from some of these same communities and 
> saying, “You know, I went and I got vaccinated because I did it for my 
> family. I did it for my community.” And that can be a very powerful 
> statement coming from someone from these same communities. And we need 
> to be doing this in the U.S., as well as around the world, as well.
> And I think, in this day and age, it’s particularly important to do 
> this very actively, because, of course, of social media and the 
> ability to disseminate sometimes erroneous information about side 
> effects of vaccines. And I think we need to be very nimble to be able 
> to, again, respond to some of this erroneous messaging very quickly.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* Dr. El-Sadr, I wanted to ask you about the current 
> controversy in the United States. This is CDC Director Dr. Rochelle 
> Walensky, speaking during a briefing with reporters Wednesday about 
> the reopening of schools and vaccines for teachers.
>     *DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY:* I would also say that safe reopening of
>     schools is not — that vaccination of teachers is not a
>     prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* President Biden has said he wants to reopen a majority 
> of K-8 schools in his first hundred days. But during a meeting with 
> teachers’ unions last Thursday, Dr. Fauci, director of the National 
> Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it may not happen.
>     *DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:* That may not happen, because there may be
>     mitigating circumstances.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* So, can you, Dr. El-Sadr, address this issue of whether 
> parents, teachers and kids should be concerned about in-person 
> learning, and what it means for Dr. Walensky to say, yes, people 
> should go back to school, even if teachers are not fully vaccinated?
> *DR. WAFAA EL-SADR:* Well, I think we have data now that are very 
> reassuring. So, over the past year, since the beginning of this 
> pandemic, there’s been accumulating data that have shown again and 
> again that transmission in schools is not the problem. It is not that 
> schools have been breeding grounds for transmission of COVID-19. This 
> has been shown in a variety of different programs around this country 
> and around the world, for a lot of different reasons. One is that we 
> have some data that transmission from children to adults seems to be 
> less efficient than from adults to adults, so that’s important, and 
> also that there are data that have shown that the rates of 
> transmission within schools, again, are very limited. Most of the 
> infections amongst teachers and so on and other school personnel have 
> been acquired in the community; they’ve not been acquired in the 
> schools themselves.
> So the most important thing is to make sure that the schools are safe. 
> And that means, of course, paying attention to ventilation, to the 
> spacing between the students, to face covering if they’re of the right 
> age and can wear a mask. And I think we have — again, we have the 
> evidence that said that this has kept our schools as safe 
> environments. Certainly, again, teachers who are involved in 
> in-classroom instruction, they are part — at least in New York state, 
> they are part of the group that is eligible to get vaccinated. But, 
> again, the data, overall, are quite reassuring about the situation 
> itself of COVID in schools even without the vaccine. So the vaccine 
> can be an additive protective measure, but it’s not necessary to 
> restrict return to school until every — not just teacher, but every 
> staff person at a school is vaccinated.
> *AMY GOODMAN:* Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, we want to thank for being with us, 
> professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia’s Mailman School of 
> Public Health. We’ll link to your piece 
> <https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/opinion/world-covid-vaccines.html> 
> in /The New York Times/, “The World Is Desperate for More Covid Vaccines.”
> When we come back, we look at China’s crackdown on Uyghurs and other 
> Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province, as reports emerge of mass 
> rapes and sweeping surveillance. Stay with us.
> /***
> /
> /Daily Maverick/
>         Roland Ngam • 4 February 2021
>   While Africa blames others for vaccine nationalism, we must also
>   examine our continent’s own failings
>     The pursuit of GDP growth masked many gaps in African economies
>     for decades, and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how woefully
>     ill-prepared African countries are to meet the needs of their
>     people. In South Africa for example, the pandemic has exposed many
>     problems, including access to water, food, health services and
>     procurement processes.
> President Cyril Ramaphosa’sbombshell statement 
> <https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/26/south-african-leader-ramaphosa-urges-rich-countries-to-stop-hoarding-vaccines.html> 
> to the Davos summit on 26 January 2021 about vaccine hoarding by rich 
> nations has been discussed and dissected from all angles in media 
> houses around the world. Rich countries, with just 16% of the world’s 
> population, have hoovered up60% of the world’s vaccine supply 
> <https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/02/02/vaccine-nationalism-harms-everyone-and-protects-no-one/>, 
> postponing inoculation programmes for the rest of the world by months, 
> if not years.
> Yet, while we must condemn rich nations for hoarding vaccines and 
> paying scant attention to global solidarity, we must also take a hard 
> look at ourselves and ask why we always have to depend on others for 
> everything.
> The other term Ramaphosa used to describe vaccine hoarding in his 
> intervention – vaccine nationalism – has been trending since. 
> Political talking heads in right-wing US media, when they bother to 
> talk about Covid-19, have opined that “we can’t help everybody”. 
> However, the consensus among medical experts is that President 
> Ramaphosa’s warning must be heeded. Vaccine nationalism can tank the 
> global economy for months or even years if a more coordinated approach 
> to vaccination is not adopted.
> The lesson we have learnt from HIV/Aids, the Severe Acute Respiratory 
> Syndrome (Sars), the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus 
> (MERS-CoV) and the Ebola virus disease (EVD) and so on, is that in the 
> highly interconnected world we live in, it is easy for a virus to get 
> on a plane and in a matter of hours, infect hundreds of people in 
> faraway countries.  For this reason, we cannot stop a pandemic by 
> working in silos. It has to be a collective effort.
> On Tuesday 2 February 2021, the Director-General of the World Health 
> Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said vaccine hoarding was 
> counterproductive and in terms of stopping the virus, it wasn’t going 
> to help.
> Every day the Covid-19 virus is not brought under control, it gets 
> stronger and continues to mutate into even more infectious variants 
> that are resistant to treatment regimens that currently exist.The 
> South African coronavirus site <https://sacoronavirus.co.za/> tells us 
> that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) 
> for example, has been confirmed as the causative agent of “coronavirus 
> disease 2019” (Covid-19). The Covid-19 virus can survive in a country 
> where people were not vaccinated, mutate into a virulent strain and 
> then travel in somebody’s body back to Europe or America and wreak 
> havoc, even among people who have been vaccinated for Covid-19.
> Moderna has already announced that it will have toadjust its vaccine 
> <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/25/moderna-begins-work-on-booster-to-protect-against-south-african-variant> 
> out of an abundance of caution to improve protection against new 
> variants of the coronavirus, especially the South African one. After 
> the South African, Brazilian, and English variants, we could 
> potentially see an even deadlier variant pop up somewhere else.
> So in terms of vaccination, we need strong global leadership and 
> coordination. Speaking at aUN summit on Ebola 
> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQY0KjevwAg> on 25 September 2014, 
> former US President Barack Obama cautioned the world that:
> “In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic the likes of which we have 
> not seen before. It is spiralling out of control, it is getting worse, 
> it is spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people 
> in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of 
> thousands. And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking 
> at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political, 
> economic and security implications for all of us. So this is an 
> epidemic that is a threat not just to regional security, it is a 
> potential threat to global security.”
> It is regrettable that the world has not witnessed the kind of 
> collaboration that was developed during the recent Ebola and Zika 
> health crises. This was in large part due to former US President 
> Donald Trump’s denialism-cum-amateurism, the rise of isolationism in 
> the post-2008 recession context (US, England, Italy, eastern Europe) 
> and the relative inexperience of the current President of the European 
> Commission, Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen who, to all intents and 
> purposes, has bungled the rollout of the EU vaccine programme.
> With stronger global leadership, better solutions than bleach and 
> hydroxychloroquine would have come up much sooner. The Africa CDC has 
> put up an admirable fight with very few resources, but its director, 
> Dr John N Nkengasong, agrees that vaccine programmes need money, time 
> and proper logistics.
> Which brings me to my next, and probably most important point: while 
> we blame others for vaccine nationalism and hoarding, we must 
> patiently and honestly take a long hard look at ourselves and ask a 
> few questions. /Cogito, ergo sum/, right? We have to ask ourselves:
>   * Where are the African vaccines?
>   * Why must we always depend on others for everything?
>   * Why do we have to pay the Serum Institute of India double for
>     vaccines that we could have produced ourselves with the right
>     infrastructure?
>   * Have we done enough to control our own destiny?
>   * Has Covid-19 convinced us to invest more money and resources in
>     our healthcare systems? and
>   * Has the coronavirus pandemic shown us the importance of building
>     resilient economies?
> Here’s the thing: the pursuit of GDP growth masked many gaps in 
> African economies for decades and the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how 
> woefully ill-prepared African countries are to meet the needs of their 
> people. In South Africa for example, the pandemic has exposed problems 
> with access to water, food, health services, procurement processes, 
> and so on.
> Our reflective examination, if we are thorough, should lead to the 
> conclusion that we do not really control our own destiny in any 
> particular area. That has to change, and if that is the case, then we 
> must embrace /degrowth/ and work harder to create localised, 
> self-sufficient economies. We must reorganise our societies and 
> prioritise investments in health, education and general well-being. 
> Every decision we make, be it in energy, agriculture, education and so 
> on, must answer the question: does it make our /communities/ stronger?
> Covid-19 has shown for example how much more work the South African 
> government needs to do with regard to the government-led universal 
> health coverage insurance offering (the National Health Insurance, 
> NHI). South Africa brought in medical doctors from Cuba to help fight 
> the virus. Cuban doctors had already been working in South Africa for 
> many years, especially in rural hospitals. Now, the South African 
> economy is almost four times the size of Cuba’s. Why is Cuba 
> recognised as a global leader in the area of health and why is such a 
> small country playing such an outsized role on health matters around 
> the world?
> Well, the answer is simple: because Cuba made a conscious decision to 
> have one of the best healthcare systems in the world right after the 
> revolution. It decided to invest in its people. A lot of time and 
> effort went into opening teaching centres, teaching hospitals and 
> training a disproportionate number of doctors. It took Cuba decades of 
> hard work operating in a degrowth paradigm to get where it is now.
> It is this kind of conscious choice that African countries have to 
> make now so as not to blame others when the next pandemic hits. Let us 
> remember the famous lines spoken by Cassius in Shakespeare’s /Julius 
> Caesar/:
> “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
> But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
> Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that ‘Caesar’?
> Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
> Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
> Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
> Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with ’em,
> Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.”
> We can’t always blame others for our problems. Like Winston Churchill 
> said, never let a good crisis go to waste. The time has come to go 
> beyond just talking about African solutions to Africa’s problems and 
> start acting as if we mean it. *DM*
> ***
>   The ICJ recommends that the African Union acknowledge COVID-19
>   vaccines are a “public good”
> February 4, 2021
> The ICJ, in a letter to the Chairperson of the African Union, 
> recommended that the African Union acknowledge that COVID-19 vaccines 
> are a “public good” and all States must ensure access to these 
> vaccines in order to realize the human rights of their inhabitants.
> The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to which most AU 
> Member States are Party, provides that “every individual shall have 
> the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental 
> health” (Art 16(1)). The Charter also places an obligation on the 
> States Parties to take all “necessary measures to protect the health 
> of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention when 
> they are sick” (Art 16(2)).
> This obligation must be understood consistently with the equivalent 
> Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and 
> Social Rights (ICESCR), to which most AU Member States are also 
> Party.  That provision protects the right to the “highest attainable 
> standard of physical and mental health”, and requires States to take 
> all necessary measures to realize this right including to ensure “the 
> prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational 
> and other diseases” (Art 12(1)(c)). Vaccines, for some such diseases 
> including COVID-19, are necessarily an integral part of prevention, 
> treatment and control.
>     /“It is essential for the process of vaccine procurement and
>     allocation to be in line with international human rights
>     standards. The African continent and its people cannot afford to
>     be left behind, and the best way to ensure that does not happen is
>     to move forward and prioritize each individuals right to health
>     and corresponding human rights.” – /
>     /Justice Sanji Monageng, ICJ Commissioner, Botswana/
> Therefore, under these treaties and other internationally binding 
> human rights law, it is clear access to certain vaccines is necessary 
> to fulfill a human right, must not be seen as a privilege. Vaccines 
> are a public good and should be treated as such by States. This 
> understanding was affirmed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and 
> Cultural Rights (CESCR) in December in a statement on universal and 
> equitable access to vaccines. CESCR stressed that: “every person has a 
> right to have access to a vaccine for COVID-19 that is safe, effective 
> and based on the application of the best scientific developments”. It 
> further implored States to “give maximum priority to the provision of 
> vaccines for COVID-19 to all persons”.
> *Recommendations of the International Commission of Jurists*
> The AU will be expected by the constituents of its Members to fulfil 
> its proper leadership function in terms its Constitutive Act an ensure 
> the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. To this end, 
> the ICJ calls upon the AU to adopt resolutions:
>  1. Calling on all member States to ensure that their COVID-19
>     responses, including vaccine acquisition and distribution, comply
>     with international human rights law and standards including those
>     particularly relating to the rights to health and to duty ensure
>     this right is realized through international cooperation.
>  2. Calling on all member States to endorse and fully participate in
>     the WTO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.
>  3. Calling on all member States to openly support the approval and
>     implementation of a waiver of intellectual property rights in
>     terms of the TRIPS agreement in order to ensure equitable and
>     affordable access of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment for all.
>  4. Calling on all member States to urgently publish public,
>     comprehensive vaccine rollout plans and transparently provide
>     clear and full health-related information to their populations.
>  5. Calling on all participants in COVAX to endorse and fully
>     participate in the WTO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.
>  6. Calling on the WTO to respond expeditiously and favourably to the
>     proposal communicated by India and South Africa for waiver of IP
>     protection for vaccines.
> To read the full submission, click here 
> <https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Africa-ICJ-Vaccine-Access-Submission-2020-ENG.pdf>.
> *Contact*
> Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, ICJ Africa Director Kaajal.Keogh(a)icj.org 
> <mailto:Kaajal.Keogh at icj.org> +27 84 5148039
> Tanveer Jeewa, Media and Legal Consultant Tanveer.Jeewa(a)icj.org 
> <mailto:Tanveer.Jeewa at icj.org>
> ***
> /Labor Notes/
>   Viewpoint: Will Your Local Union Sign On to Ask the WTO to Waive
>   Patents on Covid Vaccines?
> February 04, 2021 / Arthur Stamoulis
> Activists draw chaik outlines on the ground in front of a hotel 
> entrance; one outline is labeled "Vietnam." Others hold a banner: "TPP 
> is corporate greed. AiDS drugs = life."
> Lives are at stake when pharmaceutical companies use trade agreements 
> to keep generic drugs off the market. Activists against the 
> Trans-Pacific Partnership made this point about AIDS drugs. Now it's 
> the World Trade Organization that is holding back the production of 
> Covid vaccines. Photo: Arthur Stamoulis
> More than 100 nations are urging the World Trade Organization to waive 
> its “intellectual property” rules so that countries can start 
> producing generic Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to increase global 
> supplies. Unfortunately, the United States under Trump was one of just 
> a handful of countries to block that waiver—putting Big Pharma profits 
> ahead of ending the pandemic.
> We at the Citizens Trade Campaign are helping to get hundreds of U.S. 
> organizations both large and small to very quickly sign a letter to 
> President Biden, asking him to reverse the U.S. position and support 
> the waiver, before the next big WTO meeting, which takes place on 
> March 1. (The full text of the letter is below.)
> A number of leading public health groups are already on board, 
> including Doctors Without Borders, OxFam, and HealthGAP. Many faith 
> and other organizations are, too. We now need your help getting local 
> unions and worker centers to sign on.
> Americans backing this effort is a perfect example of the type of 
> global solidarity that counters the ugly nationalism that Trump stood for.
> Ramping up global supplies of Covid-19 vaccines has the potential to 
> save millions of lives around the world. It’s clearly the right thing 
> to do.
> But it’s more than just “charity.” Bringing an end to the global 
> pandemic as quickly as possible would also help working people in the 
> U.S. by getting our own economy getting back on track more quickly, as 
> well as by reducing the likelihood of a viral mutation that launches a 
> “Covid-21,” “Covid-22,” or what have you, starting this whole awful 
> process over for everyone. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
> Time is short. Will your union or organization sign on to the letter? 
> Click here 
> <https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeCMLYtfJwATFfEMaYGOYDiyKj7F03ypclyt_G-EQ7FO7CXEA/viewform?gxids=7628> 
> to do so. The deadline for signing is February 24, so that we can get 
> it to President Biden before the WTO makes a decision on the matter.
> /Arthur Stamoulis is executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign 
> (citizenstrade.org 
> <https://labornotes.org/blogs/2021/02/citizenstrade.org>), a national 
> coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, and faith 
> organizations working to improve U.S. trade policy./
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>       Organizational Sign-On Letter Supporting TRIPS Waiver for
>       COVID-19 Treatments & Vaccines
> *To Help End the Pandemic as Quickly as Possible and Restore U.S. 
> International Cooperation, Please End Trump’s Blockade of the COVID-19 
> Emergency Waiver of WTO Rules So More Vaccines and Treatment Can Be 
> Produced*
> Dear President Biden,
> Congratulations on becoming President. We are encouraged by the 
> administration’s steadfast efforts to eradicate COVID-19 and in so 
> doing save countless lives and livelihoods. Many Americans are hopeful 
> that your administration will improve the pace of COVID-19 vaccine 
> production and deployment in the United States. But, that alone will 
> not hasten the end of the global pandemic.
> We the undersigned organizations respectfully urge you to reverse a 
> dangerous and self-defeating position taken by President Trump that 
> threatens the prospects of ending the COVID-19 disaster. Namely, we 
> urge your administration to lift the U.S. blockage of the “Waiver from 
> Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, 
> Containment and Treatment of COVID-19” supported by more than 100 
> nations at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
> With global supply limited, many people in low- and middle-income 
> countries around the globe will not have vaccine access until at least 
> 2022, according to the British Medical Journal. Most of the world’s 
> poorest countries will have to wait until 2024 for mass immunization 
> if current trends continue, reports the Economist Intelligence Unit. 
> We are sure you agree this is unacceptable.
> Such global inequity is not only a catastrophic moral failure that 
> will lead to needless suffering and loss of life. Ongoing outbreaks 
> anywhere mean greater risk of new variants developing against which 
> vaccines are not effective and/or that can evade the antibodies 
> developed by survivors. *There simply is no way to defeat the pandemic 
> in the United States without bold action worldwide.*
> The science is clear: People in developing countries need urgent 
> access to vaccines and treatments to achieve herd immunity, just as 
> people in the United States do. Without global action, the health 
> crisis and resulting economic crisis here and worldwide will continue. 
> A new International Chamber of Commerce report concluded that the 
> current best-case scenario of wealthy nations being fully vaccinated 
> by the middle of 2021 and poor countries largely shut out could cause 
> economic losses exceeding $9 trillion. Nearly half of those costs 
> would be absorbed by wealthy countries like the United States, Canada 
> and Britain.
> The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property 
> Rights (TRIPS) requires WTO signatory countries to provide lengthy 
> monopoly protections for medicines, tests and the technologies used to 
> produce them. After a global campaign by public health and development 
> groups, in 2001 the WTO issued a binding declaration about better 
> balancing TRIPS intellectual property protections and public health 
> needs. A temporary emergency COVID-19 waiver is in line with the WTO 
> members’ agreement that intellectual property rules cannot create 
> barriers to health treatments that unnecessarily cost human lives and 
> undermine the global economy.
> Notably, governments, particularly the United States, provided 
> billions in upfront payments, clinical trial support, and guaranteed 
> purchase, so pharmaceutical firms did not bear risk. Many precursor 
> technologies used in the new vaccines resulted from long-term U.S. 
> government efforts, in collaboration with scientists in the United 
> States and around the world. Yet now the corporations will control 
> where and how much vaccine is made. Even as some firms holding vaccine 
> monopolies have contracted others to manufacture, there is 
> insufficient supply. Thus, while U.S. participation in programs like 
> COVAX is important, unless production is quickly ramped up around the 
> world to meet global demand, there simply will not be enough supply 
> for COVAX to provide countries in need. The corporate monopoly rights 
> and resulting supply shortages also threaten access for billions of 
> people in the developing world, to the COVID-19 treatments that are 
> bringing down mortality rates here. The TRIPS rules limit government 
> options to gain access to vital COVID treatments at an affordable price.
> Today, the many nations that cannot obtain the COVID-19 vaccines and 
> treatments needed to cover their populations must attempt to negotiate 
> the slow “product by product” and “country by country” compulsory 
> license approach allowed under TRIPS. (And attempts to exercise these 
> rights has led to fierce U.S. opposition in recent years, evidenced in 
> the U.S. government’s Special 301 Report.) In contrast, the TRIPS 
> waiver would remove a key obstacle to governments and manufacturers 
> worldwide accessing the technology needed to invest in making COVID 
> vaccines and treatments as rapidly as possible, in as many places as 
> possible, for the billions who still need them.
> It is rare that one policy change can so significantly impact a global 
> health effort that could save millions of lives. Supporting this 
> waiver is the right thing to do in and of itself. But doing so would 
> be not only altruistic. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as 
> possible worldwide is also necessary to reboot the global economy on 
> which so much of the U.S. economy relies.
> And, with so many of the world’s nations supporting this emergency 
> waiver already, you can also help restore America’s moral and public 
> health leadership in the world by siding with the majority to 
> prioritize saving lives over protecting pharmaceutical corporation 
> monopolies and profits. This new position would be widely noted, given 
> U.S. officials’ shameful attack on the waiver at a January WTO meeting.
> We welcomed your promise “absolutely positively” to commit to sharing 
> technology and access to any COVID-19 vaccine developed in the US, 
> during an interview with Ady Barkan. At the time you said, “It’s the 
> only humane thing in the world to do. It's not only a good thing to 
> do, it's overwhelmingly in our interest to do it as well.” We are 
> asking you to deliver on that promise.
> Thus, we respectfully request that you break with the unconscionable 
> policies Trump supported and, before the next WTO General Council 
> meeting March 1-2, announce that the United States will no longer 
> oppose the temporary, emergency COVID-19 WTO waiver of certain TRIPS 
> provisions. We also request that your administration inform our trade 
> partners that the United States will apply the same temporary, 
> emergency waiver of the same intellectual property rules included in 
> U.S. bilateral and regional trade agreements for COVID-19 vaccines, 
> testing and treatments.
> ***
>   Broad based groups call for Malaysia to unequivocally support
>   temporary suspension of WTO intellectual property enforcement
> Twenty-eight organisations including the Consumers Association of 
> Penang (CAP) and three community activists have called for Malaysia to 
> join other developing countries in a global effort to remove 
> monopolies on crucial medical products in the fight against COVID-19.
> A letter was sent to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin bin Hj Mohd 
> Yassin today as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) continue 
> their discussion on a proposal to temporarily suspend implementation, 
> application and enforcement of several parts of intellectual property 
> agreement of the WTO for a defined period.
> The signatories stress that this move will open the door to more 
> research and development as well as production of needed COVID-19 
> medical products – diagnostic kits, medicines for treatment, vaccines 
> and also personal protective gear.
> As the first vaccines are approved and rolled out for treatment, it 
> has shocked the developing world and international organisations such 
> as the World Health Organization, to see the “vaccine nationalism” and 
> hoarding that has swept the rich countries. While it is understandable 
> that each government wants to protect its own citizens, a pandemic 
> such as COVID-19 demands that the whole world work together because 
> saving a few while the rest of the world suffers will not save anyone 
> in the long run. Viruses especially when they mutate to become more 
> infectious will not respect borders.
> A major reason for shortages of the crucial COVID-19 medical products 
> is insufficient production capacity and intellectual property is a big 
> factor because of the monopolies created that end up limiting the 
> number of manufacturers.
> Unfortunately rich countries and the multinational pharmaceutical 
> industry have been strongly opposing the proposal first tabled by 
> India and South Africa on 2 October 2020 to have a temporary 
> suspension of  relevant parts of the Agreement on Trade-related 
> Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
> The so-called “Waiver Proposal” at the WTO is now co-sponsored 
> by South Africa, India, Kenya, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), 
> Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Egypt. Almost 
> 100 developing countries and the poorest countries are supporting this 
> move.  There is also worldwide support from many international 
> organisations and eminent individuals, and public pressure is growing 
> in the US, Europe, Canada and Japan where those governments are 
> blocking the Waiver Proposal at the WTO.
> WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on 18 January 
> said that “we now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring 
> hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality 
> between the world’s haves and have-nots”. He gave shocking information 
> on vaccine distribution: “More than 39 million doses of vaccine have 
> now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 
> doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; 
> not 25 thousand; just 25.”
> “I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral 
> failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and 
> livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” Dr Tedros said.
> Last week, the world watched the European Union fight for timely 
> delivery of the vaccine that it had ordered from AstraZeneca under an 
> “advance purchase agreement” and raising questions of shipments sent 
> to the United Kingdom from manufacturing plants in Europe. Delays and 
> under- delivery of the expected doses led the EU to impose an export 
> restriction until end of March that requires EU prior authorization 
> before vaccines destined for other countries can leave its territory. 
> There is widespread concern that companies with approved vaccines may 
> have over-committed in signing numerous advance purchase agreements 
> with countries that can afford to pay, and delivery delays can 
> jeopardise vaccination programmes.
> Meanwhile, the US is catching up on its national COVID-19 response, 
> and recognizing the emergency scale of affairs President Biden has 
> invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 that is used in war time to 
> ensure sufficient supply of essential goods. This Act allows the US 
> president to require businesses to accept and prioritize contracts for 
> materials deemed necessary for national defense, regardless of a loss 
> incurred on business. In addition to securing its vaccine supply, the 
> US will tackle its shortages that include N95 masks, isolation gowns, 
> nitrile gloves, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sample collection 
> swabs, test reagents, laboratory analysis machines for PCR tests, 
> high-absorbency foam swabs, nitrocellulose material for rapid antigen 
> tests, rapid test kits and all the necessary equipment and material to 
> accelerate the manufacture, delivery, and administration of COVID-19 
> vaccine. While prepared to take all necessary action at home, the US 
> is blocking the Waiver Proposal needed for a global effort.
> The Malaysian Government has announced that there will be multiple 
> suppliers of vaccines – but our total dependency on imports from 
> limited sources puts us in a very vulnerable position and a global 
> solution must be the way forward.
> The ongoing vaccine scramble and potential future conflicts over 
> medicines that can treat COVID-19 and even PPE show the urgent need 
> for the TRIPS Waiver to overcome the problems of shortages and to ramp 
> up production across countries to provide the medical 
> products equitably to small and big countries.
> *Mohideen Abdul Kader*
> *President*
> *Consumers Association of Penang*
> **
> On 2/4/2021 11:00 PM, Patrick Bond wrote:
>> Image(Capitalist greed prevails: the North's executive committees of 
>> the bourgeoisie - to be an absolutely accurate Vulgar Marxist about 
>> today's events in Geneva - are creating a world where Big Pharma 
>> insists on Intellectual Property rights on massively-subsidised, 
>> excessively-expensive commodities that are now in short supply, so 
>> that /generic vaccines and treatments will remain illegal/, so that 
>> this virus could keep running around the world forever and forever. 
>> How short-sighted can these WTO negotiators be.
>>     At the right, a protest on Tuesday at the U.S. embassy in 
>> Pretoria by Medicins sans Frontier and local C19 People's Coalition 
>> allies.
>>     We need many more expressions of anger at jerks like Joe Biden, 
>> Jair Bolsonaro, Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau who is hoarding five 
>> times the number of vaccines as Canada has residents, the Japanese, 
>> the Europeans especially the Swiss, even the hypocrite New Zealanders 
>> who apparently did not support the IP waiver proposal by India, South 
>> Africa, Kenya and Swaziland. And as you see below, there's that guy 
>> who seems to be most committed to defending IP, dating back to his 
>> opposition to generic AIDS medicines: Bill Gates.
>>     According to Chinese tv, "Egypt, Nigeria, India, and Venezuela, 
>> also 'harshly criticized' the European Union for introducing curbs on 
>> vaccine exports." We have no info yet on whether China and/or Russia 
>> were in favour of the waiver.
>>     At least there is one remark of interest, below:
>>     /patent-defending countries are unlikely to let their guard down
>>     on intellectual property at the WTO, even during the pandemic.
>>     “Almost every major pharmaceutical exporter except India has
>>     objected to this,” Evenett said. “I don’t see that proposal going
>>     ahead, unless circumstances dramatically change.//"*But that
>>     doesn’t mean that India and South Africa can’t act
>>     unilaterally,*" he added/.)
>> https://www.dw.com/en/india-south-africa-lose-bid-to-ban-covid-vaccine-patents/a-56460175
>>         /Deutsche Welle /Business
>>   India, South Africa lose bid to ban COVID vaccine patents
>> An IP waiver by the WTO would have made it easier for developing 
>> countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines and dugs. Wealthy countries 
>> opposed the move, arguing that a suspension of patents would stifle 
>> innovation.
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/india-south-africa-lose-bid-to-ban-covid-vaccine-patents/a-56460175#> 
>> India and South Africa want to see vaccine patents lifted 
>> temporarily, to boost the global supply of vaccines
>> The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday rejected a proposal by 
>> India 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/india-covid-vaccination-aims-for-critical-mass-in-8-months-serum-ceo/a-56374425> 
>> and South Africa 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/davos-africa-should-prepare-to-wait-on-vaccine/a-56354090> 
>> to temporarily suspend intellectual property (IP) rules related to 
>> COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, which they said would have allowed 
>> drugmakers in poor countries to start production of effective 
>> vaccines sooner.
>> The two countries had approached the global trade body in October, 
>> calling on it to waive parts of the Agreement on Trade-Related 
>> Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). The 
>> suspension of rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright 
>> and protection of undisclosed information would ensure "timely access 
>> to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines or to 
>> scaling-up of research, development, manufacturing and supply of 
>> medical products essential to combat COVID-19," they said.
>> The proposal was vehemently opposed by wealthy nations, including the 
>> European Union, the United States and Britain, who said that a ban 
>> would stifle innovation at pharma companies by robbing them of the 
>> incentive to make huge investments in research and development. This 
>> would be especially counterproductive during the current pandemic 
>> which needs the drugmakers to remain on their toes to deal with a 
>> mutating virus 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/combined-covid-mutations-discovered-in-the-uk/a-56445194>, 
>> they argue.
>> Watch video 07:14
>>     WHO: 'We need to change that distribution pattern very quickly'
>> The WTO's decision comes as wealthy countries face criticism for 
>> cornering billions of COVID shots — many times the size of their 
>> populations — while leaving poor countries struggling for supplies. 
>> Experts say the global scramble for vaccines 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/eu-countries-delaying-halting-vaccinations-over-delivery-shortages/a-56376344>, 
>> or vaccine nationalism, risks prolonging the pandemic.
>> "We have to recognize that this virus knows no boundaries, it travels 
>> around the globe and the response to it should also be global. It 
>> should be based on international solidarity," said Ellen 't Hoen, the 
>> director of Medicines Law & Policy — a nonprofit campaigning for 
>> greater access to medicines.
>> "Many of the large-scale vaccine manufacturers are based in 
>> developing countries. All the production capacity that exists should 
>> be exploited…and that does require the sharing of knowhow and the 
>> technology by those who have it in their hands," she told DW.
>> Watch video 01:20
>>     Will the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine only be available in rich countries?
>>     Not enough production capacity
>> Supporters of the waiver, which include dozens of developing and 
>> least-developed countries and NGOs, said the WTO's IP rules were 
>> acting as a barrier to urgent scale-up of production of vaccines and 
>> other much needed medical equipment in poor countries.
>> Those critical of India and South Africa's proposal argue that 
>> suspension of patents would not address the production and shortage 
>> issues currently plaguing vaccination drives globally. 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-digest-rich-nations-buy-half-of-promised-vaccine-supply/a-54956400> 
>> "Demands for a release of patent information relating to vaccines 
>> would not increase supply by a single dose in the short term because 
>> they overlook the complexity of vaccine manufacture and ignore the 
>> extent to which vaccine manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies 
>> and developing nations already cooperate in order to ramp up 
>> vaccination capacities," Thomas Cueni, the general director of the 
>> International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & 
>> Associations (IFPMA), told DW.
>> "The euphoria over the development of highly effective vaccines has 
>> somehow created the impression that once a vaccine has been 
>> developed, a billion doses can roll out of the factories at the push 
>> of a button. I think we need to be aware of just how complex and 
>> difficult vaccine manufacturing is," he says.
>>     Unprecedented collaboration
>> While the WTO General Council agreed that there was an urgent need to 
>> ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs, and that too 
>> at a swift pace, they could not arrive at a consensus on a waiver.
>> The pharmaceutical industry says it was witnessing an unprecedented 
>> level of collaboration among companies, including rival, to ensure a 
>> safe and swift access to vaccines to people around the globe. They 
>> point to AstraZeneca's 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/astrazeneca-vaccine-can-slow-transmission-of-covid-19-oxford-study-reveals/a-56445809> 
>> deal with the world's largest vaccine maker, India's Serum Institute, 
>> and Johnson & Johnson teaming up with South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare 
>> to produce its yet-to-be-approved vaccine. In addition, they said 
>> German company Bayer has signed up to help produce Germany's 
>> CureVac's mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine, and Sanofi has agreed to 
>> help rival Pfizer with the production of its vaccine developed by 
>> BioNtech.
>> Then there is the WHO-backed COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) 
>> <https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-global-alliance-comes-to-africas-rescue-in-vaccine-rush/a-55091668> 
>> facility, funded through donations, to ensure fair global access to 
>> coronavirus vaccines. The facility plans to distribute 2 billion 
>> doses by the end of 2021, but has struggled to gain traction.
>> ***
>> *Rich and poor nations clash over patent waivers on lifesaving vaccines*
>> Toni Waterman in Brussels
>> CGTN (Chinese state tv)
>> The world's richest nations have shot down a proposal by India and 
>> South Africa to temporarily waive patent protections on potentially 
>> lifesaving coronavirus vaccines and treatments.
>> According to a Geneva trade official, Canada, the UK, Switzerland and 
>> Japan voiced their opposition to the waiver during an informal 
>> meeting of the World Trade Organization's TRIPS Council on Thursday, 
>> saying there was "no concrete indication" that intellectual property 
>> (IP) rights have been a barrier to accessing medicines and technologies.
>> Representatives from the European Union argued that vaccine scarcity 
>> could be fixed through a combination of licensing and expanding 
>> manufacturing capacity.
>> **Supporters of the proposal stressed that manufacturing capacity in 
>> the "Global South" was being underutilized. They called the vaccine 
>> shortfall "artificial" and claimed it was part of a scheme to 
>> "perpetuate monopoly power using IP," said the trade official.
>> Several countries, including Egypt, Nigeria, India, and Venezuela, 
>> also "harshly criticized" the European Union for introducing curbs on 
>> vaccine exports.
>> "The measure was characterized as serious and alarming and indicative 
>> that those countries that continue to oppose most vociferously the IP 
>> waiver are indeed the ones that have secretly bought up their way to 
>> available production and continue to collude with pharmaceutical 
>> companies under the veil of secrecy," said the trade official.
>> Last year, as global scientists worked around the clock to develop 
>> COVID-19 vaccines, officials from the world's richest countries 
>> vehemently touted equitable access, many promising to supply hundreds 
>> of millions of doses to the world's poorest nations. They also struck 
>> multiple bilateral deals with pharmaceutical companies – six for the 
>> EU – and plowed billions of public money into the companies to 
>> accelerate vaccine development and offset risk.
>> But now the vaccines have arrived, the gulf between the haves and 
>> have nots is spreading. According to analysis from The Economist 
>> Intelligence Unit, rich nations such as the UK, U.S., Israel, and 
>> those in the EU are likely to achieve "widespread vaccination 
>> coverage" by late 2021, but the world's poorest countries will not 
>> hit that same benchmark until at least 2024.
>> "We cannot continue to engage in endless discussions, while in the 
>> real world millions of lives are lost to the coronavirus pandemic," 
>> the South Africa delegate said during the meeting.
>> On Wednesday, the WHO-led COVAX facility said it hoped to ship 335 
>> million doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of June.
>> ***
>> https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-patent-grab-big-pharma/
>>   Europe hints at patent grab from Big Pharma
>> Prominent figures in Germany, Italy and even at the European Council 
>> are toughening on patents — but are they bluffing?
>> By Ashleigh Furlong 
>> <https://www.politico.eu/author/ashleigh-furlong/> and Sarah Anne 
>> Aarup <https://www.politico.eu/author/sarah-anne-aarup/>
>> February 3, 2021 8:50 pm
>> Ever so softly, European politicians are beginning to voice a once 
>> unthinkable threat by suggesting they could snatch patents from drug 
>> companies to make up for massive shortfalls in the supply of 
>> coronavirus vaccines.
>> Big Pharma businesses have for many years regarded EU countries as 
>> unquestioningly loyal allies over intellectual property rights in the 
>> international trade arena. The EU could always be relied upon to 
>> defend U.S., Japanese and European drugmakers from poor nations in 
>> Africa and South Asia that have long wanted the recipe of critical 
>> medicines to be handed over to generic manufacturers.
>> But fury over the inability of companies to deliver on contracts amid 
>> the COVID-19 pandemic means that now even European politicians, from 
>> the Italian parliament to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, are 
>> arguing, albeit cautiously, that patents may no longer be as 
>> sacrosanct as they once were.
>> The big question is whether they are just saber-rattling, knowing 
>> full well that any patent raid would shatter an ultimate commercial 
>> taboo and risk an exodus of leading companies from Europe over fears 
>> about the loss of IP.
>> The European Commission's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry 
>> Breton, a doyen of French big business, is at pains to stress that 
>> there is no question of redistributing patents. 
>> <https://www.politico.eu/?p=1598714> On Wednesday, he insisted that 
>> he would lead efforts by Brussels to help pharmaceutical companies 
>> expand their production sites and cooperate on output. “I will make 
>> sure they get everything they need,” he said.
>> That more traditional pro-business stance from Breton will prove 
>> comforting to pharma executives, who are now facing far more hostile 
>> messaging from other quarters of the EU.
>> European Council President Charles Michel last week raised the 
>> prospect that the EU could adopt “urgent measures” by invoking an 
>> emergency provision in the EU treaties in response to supply 
>> shortfalls. Commission officials have pointed to powers in Article 
>> 122 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which 
>> ostensibly could be used to force vaccine makers to share their 
>> patents or other licenses — known as compulsory licensing.
>> Europe's most powerful economy minister, Germany’s Altmaier, who 
>> hails from the business-friendly center-right Christian Democratic 
>> Union, also seemed open to the possibility. During atelevision talk 
>> show 
>> <https://www.zdf.de/politik/maybrit-illner/corona-virus-ohne-grenzen-hat-europa-die-kontrolle-verloren-sendung-vom-28-januar-2021-100.html> 
>> last week, Altmaier said compulsory licenses wouldn’t help to 
>> increase production in the next couple of months because it would 
>> take time to set up additional production centers. But if cooperation 
>> among pharmaceutical companies to increase production should fail, he 
>> said, he “would be willing to talk about coercive measures.”
>> Adding to the chorus, Alexis Tsipras, former Greek prime minister and 
>> current leader of the main opposition Syriza party, has called for a 
>> European patents pool. In an opinion piece for POLITICO 
>> <https://www.politico.eu/article/coronavirus-vaccines-public-good-not-corporate-product/> 
>> last week, he warned that depending on a few pharmaceutical companies 
>> to develop vaccines for the whole of Europe is a “weak” strategy.
>>       Going nuclear
>> India and South Africa are pushing for a nuclear option, above and 
>> beyond compulsory licensing. They want a temporary international 
>> waiver on the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual 
>> Property Rights (TRIPS) for all coronavirus-related medical products, 
>> including vaccines and treatments.
>> This is set to come up on the agenda of the informal TRIPS Council 
>> meeting <https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/trips_e.htm> 
>> Thursday, but is set to meet almost universal opposition from wealthy 
>> countries at the World Trade Organization, with the EU, U.K., U.S., 
>> and Switzerland all coming out against it.
>> Intriguingly, however, even here, potential cracks are emerging in 
>> the longer term European position. In early December, the Italian 
>> parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to support 
>> the waiver 
>> <https://www.camera.it/leg18/410?idSeduta=0440&tipo=documenti_seduta>.
>> Civil society’s hopes were further boosted during the C20 — a civil 
>> society meeting that runs parallel to the G20 — from January 25 to 
>> 27. According to several attendees, Italian officials suggested that 
>> the Italian G20 presidency this year could support the waiver.
>> However, other attendees have played down the importance of those 
>> comments, since they weren't issued at the ministerial level and were 
>> conciliatory in tone. Indeed, at the official level in Geneva, the 
>> Italian foreign ministry said Rome's position was still fully in line 
>> with the European Commission's.
>> Nevertheless, Brandon Locke, policy and advocacy manager at ONE 
>> Campaign anti-poverty advocacy group, believes the Italian debate 
>> “might just be the crack in the ice to sort of get things rolling.”
>> “The fallout from the AstraZeneca and Pfizer [vaccine] delays are 
>> really causing a massive shift in how a lot of member states are 
>> thinking about vaccine supply and the traditional frameworks through 
>> which manufacturing was supposed to be carried out,” he said.
>> Tommaso Valletti, former chief competition economist at the 
>> Commission, has also signaled support for the waiver and the issuing 
>> of compulsory licenses. "Do we really believe that this would 
>> 'jeopardize' future innovation? 2.2m people are dead," he tweeted 
>> <https://twitter.com/TomValletti/status/1356609791527964677> on Tuesday.
>> However, there remains the formidable hurdle that WTO decisions must 
>> pass by consensus: Even if Italy did support the waiver, it's 
>> unlikely to make any difference.
>>       Push for unilateral action
>> While unified WTO action is unlikely, the EU, U.S., U.K., Switzerland 
>> and Japan have offered to help members that want to implement 
>> existing "flexibilities" in the WTO’s intellectual property 
>> agreement, according to one Geneva trade official. That brings 
>> compulsory licensing into play, and countries can implement this 
>> individually. Several countries, including Germany 
>> <https://www.taylorwessing.com/fr/insights-and-events/insights/2020/04/covid-19-and-public-compulsory-licensing-of-drugs-in-europe> 
>> and France 
>> <https://www.cliffordchance.com/content/dam/cliffordchance/briefings/2020/04/compulsory-licensing-and-new-provisions-affecting-ip-holders-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-in-france-and-globally.pdf>, 
>> have already even strengthened legislation to make these measures 
>> easier to implement.
>> Usually seen as a last resort, there are very few cases of compulsory 
>> licensing of medicines. But one could make the case in the context of 
>> the coronavirus pandemic, explains Ceyhun Pehlivan, a lawyer at 
>> Linklaters’ Madrid office: Governments could say it's an appropriate 
>> option if the license holder can't produce enough vaccines or 
>> medicines. Opponents of compulsory licenses argue they would 
>> discourage companies from producing these kinds of products in the 
>> future, Pehlivan added.
>> Historically, compulsory licensing has certainly not proved an 
>> attractive option. Only once in WTO history has a developing country 
>> lacking production capabilities forced an export license onto a 
>> patent-holding country. In 2007, Rwanda sought to import 
>> antiretroviral HIV medicines from Canada — and Ottawa granted the 
>> license over a year after the initial ask.
>> There's another problem — possibly the Achilles' heel of the push for 
>> IP waivers and compulsory licenses: While granting a compulsory 
>> license may mean that another manufacturer can produce a drug or 
>> vaccine without being sued by the license holder, it doesn't give 
>> them the all-important know-how or technology transfer to actually 
>> make the drug. These are separate from patents and are particularly 
>> important for the manufacture of complex drugs, such as mRNA 
>> vaccines, which up until now, had never been made before.
>> The Geneva-based diplomat pointed to the know-how issue as a 
>> significant obstacle. “That’s the $1 million question,” the diplomat 
>> said.
>> One possible avenue is the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 
>> Technology Access Pool 
>> <https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/covid-19-technology-access-pool#:~:text=The%20COVID%2D19%20Technology%20Access,knowledge%2C%20intellectual%20property%20and%20data.> 
>> (C-TAP), which was meant to become a source for open-access knowledge 
>> on COVID-19 science and technology. However, as yet, not a single 
>> patent-holding drugmaker has agreed to sign up.
>>       ‘Guerilla war’ against IP rights
>> Behind the spat at the WTO, a larger question looms: Is this an 
>> attempt to permanently override aspects of intellectual property 
>> rights that some countries disagree with?
>> “You can essentially see it as a play by two countries, India and 
>> South Africa, who never really liked the current intellectual 
>> property rights rules of the WTO,” said Simon Evenett, an economics 
>> professor at St. Gallen University in Switzerland. “I see it in a 
>> broader 25-year-long context of this sort of guerilla war against 
>> these rules.”
>> But for now, patent-defending countries are unlikely to let their 
>> guard down on intellectual property at the WTO, even during the 
>> pandemic.
>> “Almost every major pharmaceutical exporter except India has objected 
>> to this,” Evenett said. “I don’t see that proposal going ahead, 
>> unless circumstances dramatically change.
>> "But that doesn’t mean that India and South Africa can’t act 
>> unilaterally," he added.
>> ***
>>   Road to Hell Paved with Good Intentions
>> By Jomo Kwame Sundaram 
>> <http://www.ipsnews.net/author/jomo-kwame-sundaram/>
>> KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Feb 3 2021 (IPS) - Access to COVID-19 
>> vaccines for many developing countries and most of their people will 
>> have to wait as the powerful and better off secure earlier access 
>> regardless of need or urgency. More profits, by manufacturing 
>> scarcity, will surely cause even more loss of both lives and livelihoods.
>> *Good intentions not enough*
>> To induce private efforts to develop and distribute vaccines, the WHO 
>> initiated COVAX 
>> <https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/covax> to ensure 
>> more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. However, interest by 
>> vaccine companies has been limited, while some governments – 
>> especially from better-off upper middle-income countries – pursue 
>> other options.
>> COVAX has been co-led with GAVI <https://www.gavi.org/>, the Vaccine 
>> Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations 
>> (CEPI <https://cepi.net/>). Buoyed by their earlier success with 
>> advance market commitments 
>> <https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/gavi-covax-amc-explained> (AMC), 
>> they have extended the same approach in very different circumstances.
>> AMC was originally conceived 
>> <https://www.cgdev.org/topics/making-markets-vaccines-advance-market-commitments#:~:text=In%25202005%252C%2520a%2520CGD%2520Working,funds%2520to%2520incentivize%2520vaccine%2520development.&text=Making%2520a%2520commitment%2520in%2520advance,investment%2520in%2520research%2520and%2520development.> 
>> to induce the development of vaccines for ��neglected diseases’. Such 
>> infectious diseases remain threats in poor countries and among poor 
>> people. Hence, prospective sales revenue was believed to be too small 
>> for needed investments by profit-seeking vaccine companies.
>> By guaranteeing and subsidising sales, the AMC effectively promises 
>> the vaccine developer to make the research and development effort 
>> profitable, typically with early payments and subsidies to enhance 
>> the inducement.
>> *No one size fits all*
>> In the Covid-19 pandemic context, however, the COVAX AMC is not a 
>> ‘white knight’ coming to the rescue of an orphaned, typically 
>> tropical disease. Instead, it competes with other buyers, mostly of 
>> greater means.
>> To put it bluntly, the Covid-19 pandemic context is quite different 
>> <https://krinstituteorg-my.sharepoint.com/personal/jomo_krinstitute_org/Documents/new%2520jomo%2520data/Jan.%252029,%25202021%2520https:/www.barrons.com/articles/hoarding-is-undermining-a-key-effort-to-vaccinate-the-global-poor-51611882933> 
>> from the ‘neglected diseases’ problem which the AMC was conceived to 
>> address, i.e., contemporary Western R&D efforts presumed to be driven 
>> primarily, if not exclusively by the prospect of profits.
>> The highly infectious ‘aerosol-borne’ virus quickly achieved a global 
>> reach. Apparently more likely to be lethal with advancing age, mass 
>> vulnerability to infection ensured a broad, inclusive, international 
>> market for Covid-19 vaccines from the outset.
>> Recognising the extent and impact of the pandemic threat, vaccine 
>> developers expect to sell their vaccines very profitably 
>> <https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2020/12/16/pfizer-and-modernas-vaccines-could-be-more-profitable-than-you-think/?sh=5014031c6334>. 
>> They made advance sales to many rich-country governments, rather 
>> than, or even while committing to COVAX. Unsurprisingly in these 
>> circumstances, the COVAX AMC approach has not worked well, let alone 
>> equitably.
>> The companies did not require AMC advance purchases to start their 
>> efforts. Expecting the WHO to protect their interests, participating 
>> developing country governments, mainly of upper-middle income 
>> economies, have generally not worked together to push for further 
>> price moderation.
>> *COVAX subverted*
>> Advance Covid-19 vaccine purchases 
>> <https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4750> by many rich country 
>> governments are not only greatly in excess of their population 
>> requirements, but also not made in a transparent manner conducive to 
>> improving equity.
>> Unsure of the efficacy and effectiveness of the often still 
>> experimental vaccines, some booked, paid for and now demand far more 
>> than needed by their populations. Thus, COVAX has been subverted by 
>> rich country government actions.
>> Ironically, instead of protecting and promoting the interests of the 
>> poor, the public interest and the common good, the COVAX AMC has 
>> served to set floor prices. Arguably, COVAX has ensured profits for 
>> vaccine companies without addressing the ‘only money talks’ problem 
>> and competitive ‘vaccine nationalism’.
>> To ensure a ‘people’s vaccine’ available to all, Acharya and Reddy 
>> have proposed 
>> <http://bostonreview.net/science-nature/sanjay-g-reddy-arnab-acharya-economic-case-peoples-vaccine> 
>> public financing to develop or buy over vaccine formulas. This can 
>> ensure patentable and other relevant information is freely shared, 
>> enabling generic vaccine producers to greatly increase supply at much 
>> lower prices.
>> As rich country governments have already paid much to accelerate 
>> vaccine development, they can more easily secure and share the thus 
>> far undisclosed information needed to greatly and affordably scale up 
>> generic vaccine output.
>> As vaccine developers do not really expect much revenue from selling 
>> vaccines to the poor, such ‘generosity’ would cost them little, while 
>> earning them and the enabling governments priceless appreciation and 
>> goodwill in the process.
>> *Way out*
>> The best way forward now involves approving the TRIPS waiver at the 
>> WTO, which the Trump administration, the EU and some allies, such as 
>> Brazil, have stubbornly blocked.
>> The TRIPS waiver – sought by developing countries led by South 
>> Africa, India and Pakistan – seeks to temporarily suspend several 
>> TRIPS provisions on patents, design and protection of undisclosed 
>> information.
>> The Biden administration has shown renewed commitment to 
>> multilateralism by re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO). It 
>> can demonstrate leadership by not only lifting the US embargo on 
>> exports of vaccines, vital medicines and equipment, but also 
>> advocating strongly for the TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.
>> US taxpayers have already spent many billions to accelerate private 
>> vaccine development and distribution. Vaccines for the world can be 
>> greatly increased, at little additional cost, by working with the 
>> rest of the world, as Chinese researchers did by sharing the virus’ 
>> genome sequence with the world within a fortnight of its discovery 
>> over a year ago.
>> ***
>>   Indian Groups Demand NZ Supports WTO Vaccine Waiver
>> *Thursday, 4 February 2021, 9:47 am*
>> *Press Release: Joint Press Release 
>> <https://info.scoop.co.nz/Joint_Press_Release>*
>> A group of 36 Indian health organisations and 50 respected 
>> individuals has sent a letter to the NZ Ambassador to India, calling 
>> on the NZ Government to support the proposed waiver of World Trade 
>> Organisation (WTO) intellectual property rules to expand access to 
>> Covid-19 vaccines.
>> The appeal, which has been forwarded to the Prime Minister, is penned 
>> by The Delhi Network of Positive People, a group advocating for the 
>> rights of people with HIV/AIDS, and highlights how WTO patent 
>> monopolies preventing competition and local manufacturing contributed 
>> to a ten year delay in access to life saving HIV medicines for people 
>> in developing countries, leading to millions of unnecessary deaths.
>> "It is now clear that the longer the virus circulates in unprotected 
>> populations, the more likely it is that mutations will occur. These 
>> mutations can - including countries opposing the waiver proposal - 
>> and prolong the pandemic. In the face of such a crisis, the New 
>> Zealand silence is untenable and self-defeating", the letter states.
>> This follows another open letter sent by 42 New Zealand organisations 
>> and individuals also calling on the Prime Minister to support a 
>> "people’s vaccine" by supporting the waiver.
>> "Prime Minister Ardern has called for 2021 to be the year of the 
>> vaccine, but only one in 10 people in low-income developing countries 
>> will be able to access a vaccine this year", said It’s Our Future 
>> spokesperson Edward Miller.
>> "Supporting the WTO waiver will allow vaccine manufacturers in 
>> developing countries - already responsible for producing billions 
>> doses of various other vaccines - to contribute to the global effort 
>> to stop the Covid health and economic crises."
>> "The World Health Organisation has warned that vaccine inequality 
>> could cost the global economy US $9.2 trillion; much of that is 
>> income stolen from the pockets of the poorest communities on the 
>> planet"."
>> "Tomorrow at the TRIPS Council meeting, New Zealand has an 
>> opportunity to get off the fence and support the kind of universal 
>> vaccine access that Prime Minister Ardern has been advocating."
>> ***
>> /Mail&Guardian/
>>   Bill Gates, Big Pharma and entrenching the vaccine apartheid
>> Simon Allison <https://mg.co.za/author/simon-allison/>
>> 30 Jan 2021
>> The pandemic has been good to billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. 
>> In 2020, the Microsoft cofounder added $18-billion to his fortune, 
>> which now stands at a cool $131-billion. (Photo by Lionel 
>> Bonaventure/AFP)
>> <https://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmg.co.za%2Fcoronavirus-essentials%2F2021-01-30-bill-gates-big-pharma-and-entrenching-the-vaccine-apartheid%2F><https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Bill+Gates%2C+Big+Pharma+and+entrenching+the+vaccine+apartheid&url=https%3A%2F%2Fmg.co.za%2Fcoronavirus-essentials%2F2021-01-30-bill-gates-big-pharma-and-entrenching-the-vaccine-apartheid%2F&via=mailandguardian><https://api.whatsapp.com/send?text=Bill+Gates%2C+Big+Pharma+and+entrenching+the+vaccine+apartheid 
>> %0A%0A 
>> https://mg.co.za/coronavirus-essentials/2021-01-30-bill-gates-big-pharma-and-entrenching-the-vaccine-apartheid/><https://www.linkedin.com/shareArticle?mini=true&url=https://mg.co.za/coronavirus-essentials/2021-01-30-bill-gates-big-pharma-and-entrenching-the-vaccine-apartheid/&title=Bill+Gates%2C+Big+Pharma+and+entrenching+the+vaccine+apartheid><mailto:?subject=Bill 
>> Gates, Big Pharma and entrenching the vaccine 
>> apartheid&body=https://mg.co.za/coronavirus-essentials/2021-01-30-bill-gates-big-pharma-and-entrenching-the-vaccine-apartheid/><https://telegram.me/share/url?url=https://mg.co.za/coronavirus-essentials/2021-01-30-bill-gates-big-pharma-and-entrenching-the-vaccine-apartheid/&text=Bill+Gates%2C+Big+Pharma+and+entrenching+the+vaccine+apartheid>
>> In October 2020, diplomats from South Africa and India approached the 
>> World Trade Organisation (WTO) with a revolutionary proposal.
>> Together, the two countries argued that countries should be allowed 
>> to ignore any patents related to Covid-19 vaccines, for the duration 
>> of the pandemic. In other words: everyone should be allowed to 
>> manufacture the vaccine, without penalty.
>> In their official communication, the countries said: “As new 
>> diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, 
>> there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made 
>> available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices 
>> to meet global demand.”
>> Just a few weeks later, Pfizer and BioNTech announced the first 
>> successful phase three trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, followed 
>> swiftly by Moderna and AstraZeneca.
>> In developing countries, jubilation at the prospect of a swift end to 
>> the devastating pandemic turned quickly into fear and anger, as it 
>> became clear that vaccines would only be made available to the rich, 
>> with little thought to equitable distribution. Canada, the worst 
>> offender, has pre-ordered so many vaccines that it will be able to 
>> vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it 
>> is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
>> The vaccines that have been made available to the developing world 
>> are either untested — such as the Chinese and Russian vaccines, for 
>> which insufficient clinical trial data has been released — or 
>> expensive. South Africa has ordered 1.5-million doses of the 
>> AstraZeneca vaccine, but will pay more than double 
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/south-africa-paying-more-than-double-eu-price-for-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine> 
>> what the EU is paying per dose.
>> The EU says that it is entitled to a lower price because it invested 
>> in the vaccine’s development — nevermind that the AstraZeneca vaccine 
>> was literally tested on the bodies of South Africans 
>> <https://mg.co.za/health/2021-01-21-astrazenecas-covid-vaccine-no-profit-pledge-rings-hollow/> 
>> who volunteered to be part of the clinical trial in Johannesburg.
>> In lower income countries, the situation is even worse. As of 18 
>> January, 39-million vaccine doses had been administered in the 
>> world’s 50 richest countries, compared to just 25 individual doses in 
>> low-income countries.
>> It appears that South Africa and India were right. Under the current 
>> rules, the vaccine cannot be made quickly or cheaply enough to meet 
>> global demand, which vaccines are only going to those countries that 
>> can afford it. This is a “catastrophic moral failure”, said the head 
>> of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 
>> Some activists have described the situation as a “vaccine apartheid”.
>>     Nor has South Africa and India’s proposal received support from
>>     the most influential non-state actor in global public health:
>>     Bill Gates
>> Nonetheless, the proposal for a patent waiver has been repeatedly 
>> rejected 
>> <https://www.cato.org/publications/free-trade-bulletin/unnecessary-proposal-wto-waiver-intellectual-property-rights-covid#_ednref3> 
>> at the WTO by wealthier countries including the European Union, the 
>> United Kingdom, US and Switzerland; countries which, as Reuters wryly 
>> noted 
>> <https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-wto/backers-of-ip-waiver-for-covid-19-drugs-make-fresh-push-at-wto-idUSL8N2JU5IQ>, 
>> are “all home to major pharmaceutical companies”. They also all enjoy 
>> early access to the vaccine.
>> Nor has South Africa and India’s proposal received support from the 
>> most influential non-state actor in global public health: Bill Gates.
>> The pandemic has been good to Gates. In 2020, the Microsoft cofounder 
>> added $18-billion 
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/15/billionaires-net-worth-coronavirus-pandemic-jeff-bezos-elon-musk>to 
>> his fortune, which now stands at a cool $131-billion (the annual GDP 
>> of Ethiopia, a country of 112-million people, is $96-billion). He is 
>> the fourth-richest person in the world.
>> The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has since its inception in 2000 
>> spent more than $54-billion 
>> <https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-Factsheet#:~:text=July%2017%2C%202017%3A%20%242.4%20billion,July%201%2C%202019%3A%20%242.7%20billion> 
>> combating diseases such as polio and malaria and bolstering the 
>> health systems of developing countries. It funds everything from 
>> governments to civil society organisations to health journalism 
>> outlets, which means it has an enormous say in how health policy is 
>> shaped and communicated. It also contributes 12% of the WHO’s total 
>> budget.
>> But despite Gates’ stated commitment to an equitable distribution of 
>> the Covid vaccine, he is refusing to back South Africa and India’s 
>> calls for a waiver on patents.
>> This should not come as a surprise: the Gates Foundation has 
>> historically been opposed to efforts to reform intellectual property 
>> protections for pharmaceutical companies — putting it at odds with 
>> other public health NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) — and 
>> has in fact lobbied for developing countries to impose even stronger 
>> protections for drug companies’ patents. This is perhaps because 
>> Gates’ own fortune is built on intellectual property, specifically 
>> the copy­rights and patents associated with Windows and Microsoft.
>> In response to a question from the /Mail & Guardian/, Gates argued 
>> that lifting patents would not make any real difference. “At this 
>> point, changing the rules wouldn’t make any additional vaccines 
>> available.” That’s because, he claims, there are only a handful of 
>> manufacturers in the world with the necessary capacity to make the 
>> vaccines, and these are all at capacity already.
>> This claim is only partially true, as MSF vaccine pharmacist Alain 
>> Alsalhani told the /M&G/. Highly specialised manufacturers are needed 
>> to make traditional vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca jab, because 
>> this involves isolating and replicating parts of the virus itself.
>> Only 43 companies are on the WHO’s approved list of vaccine 
>> manufacturers, and it could take years to set up new factories that 
>> meet the regulations.
>> But the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on manipulating 
>> messenger RNA (mRNA), which appears to be significantly easier to 
>> manufacture. Moderna’s vaccines are being produced by Lonza, a Swiss 
>> chemicals company with no previous experience of vaccine manufacture. 
>> This suggests that the pool of companies that could make the vaccine 
>> is much higher — there are 10 000 companies in India alone that 
>> manufacture medicines, and a proportion of these could potentially be 
>> involved in the manufacture of mRNA vaccines.
>> “If this assumption is verified, and we hope we will have more 
>> detailed analysis [soon], then we are changing the story here,” said 
>> Alsalhani.
>> Even then, Alsalhani warns that waiving patent protections is no 
>> miracle fix, because the technical challenges are still considerable 
>> — especially if the big pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to 
>> share their processes. Moderna, for example, has said it will not 
>> enforce its patent rights; but Lonza, which actually makes the 
>> vaccine, “won’t talk to us” about how it’s actually done, he said.
>> South Africa and India are continuing their fight at the WTO. But 
>> with the world’s most powerful countries ranged against them, and 
>> without the support of Bill Gates — the single most influential 
>> unelected individual in public health— the chances of success are as 
>> slim.
>> ***
>>   A global vaccine apartheid is unfolding. People’s lives must come
>>   before profit
>> Winnie Byanyima <https://www.theguardian.com/profile/winnie-byanyima>
>> The poorest countries are missing out on adequate doses of vaccines – 
>> and the health implications should concern us all
>> Covid-19 mural in Barcelona
>> ‘We can and must act now to change the otherwise catastrophic 
>> trajectory of this pandemic.’ Covid-19 mural in Barcelona. 
>> Photograph: Matthias Oesterle/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock
>> Fri 29 Jan 2021 07.45 GMT
>> 1314
>> Nine months ago world leaders were queueing up to declare any 
>> Covid-19 vaccine a global public good. Today we are witness to a 
>> vaccine apartheid that is only serving the interests of powerful and 
>> profitable pharmaceutical corporations while costing us the quickest 
>> and least harmful route out of this crisis.
>> I am sickened by news that South Africa 
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/south-africa-paying-more-than-double-eu-price-for-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine>, 
>> a country whose HIV history should have taught us all the most 
>> appalling life-costing consequences of allowing pharmaceutical 
>> corporations to protect their medicine monopolies, has had to pay 
>> more than double the price paid by the European Union for the 
>> AstraZeneca vaccine for far fewer doses than it actually needs. Like 
>> so many other low- and middle-income countries, South Africa is today 
>> facing a vaccine landscape of depleted supply where it is purchasing 
>> power, not suffering, that will secure the few remaining doses.
>> Advertisement
>> Nine out of 10 people living in the poorest countries are poised to 
>> miss out on a vaccine this year. Production delays put even this 
>> figure in doubt. Unjustifiably high prices block access and threaten 
>> to push more countries into an ever-deeper debt crisis. If we 
>> continue to pursue the vaccine model we have, we will fail to get 
>> this pandemic under control for years to come.
>> Failure to change course will come at the cost of millions of lives 
>> and livelihoods around the world; to our progress on tackling 
>> poverty; to businesses, including those represented here at the World 
>> Economic Forum this week; and to our collective public health and 
>> economic security. Make no mistake, the costs of vaccine inequality 
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/27/most-poor-nations-will-take-until-2024-to-achieve-mass-covid-19-immunisation> 
>> will not be confined to those living in the poorest countries.
>> The longer the virus is allowed to continue in a context of patchy 
>> immunity, the greater the chance of mutations that could render the 
>> vaccines we have and the vaccines some people in rich countries have 
>> already received, less effective or ineffective.
>> 'We are worried': Indians hopeful but anxious as vaccination drive begins
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jan/17/indian-hopeful-anxious-covid-vaccination-drive-begins>
>> Read more
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jan/17/indian-hopeful-anxious-covid-vaccination-drive-begins>
>> Research commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce 
>> published this week predicts that delays to vaccine access in poorer 
>> nations will also cost the global economy an estimated $9tn 
>> <https://iccwbo.org/media-wall/news-speeches/study-shows-vaccine-nationalism-could-cost-rich-countries-us4-5-trillion/> 
>> (£6.6tn), with nearly half of this absorbed in wealthy countries such 
>> as the US, Canada, Germany and the UK.
>> We cannot rewind the past nine months or the failure so far of 
>> governments to enact their pledge to make Covid-19 vaccines global 
>> public goods. But we can and must act now to change the otherwise 
>> catastrophic trajectory of this pandemic. The vaccine science, 
>> knowhow and technology, paid for in large part by more than $100bn of 
>> taxpayers’ money, can no longer be treated as the private property of 
>> pharmaceutical corporations. Instead, these must be shared openly, 
>> via the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 technology access pool 
>> <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/who-platform-for-pharmaceutical-firms-unused-since-pandemic-began>, 
>> so that more manufacturers can be brought on board and a global plan 
>> put in action to scale up vaccine production.
>> To clear the pathway for this, governments must also urgently back 
>> the proposal tabled to the World Trade Organization to temporarily 
>> waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments 
>> and tests until the world has reached critically needed herd immunity 
>> and this pandemic is under control.
>> Almost every business on the planet has had to step away from 
>> business as usual as a result of this pandemic. It is in all our 
>> interests that pharmaceutical corporations now do the same. I invite 
>> governments and business leaders to join the growing call for a 
>> “people’s vaccine” and together chart a new path that can secure 
>> enough vaccines, tests and treatments for all people in all nations.
>> • Winnie Byanyima is executive director of UNAids and a UN 
>> undersecretary general
>> ***
>> /*Foreign Affairs*/
>> *The Folly of Hoarding Knowledge in the COVID-19 Age*
>> *Let Vaccine Producers in Poor Countries Help End the Pandemic*
>> *By Tahir Amin 
>> <https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-01-29/folly-hoarding-knowledge-covid-19-age#author-info>*
>> January 29, 2021
>> By now, it has become clear that the means to end the COVID-19 
>> pandemic will reach people in poor countries far later than they will 
>> get to people in wealthy ones. Only one of the 29 poorest countries 
>> in the world—Guinea in West Africa—has begun vaccinations, and it has 
>> so far managed to immunize just 55 people 
>> <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/01/26/guinea-covid-vaccinations-poor-countries/>. 
>> Half of the planned 2021 supplies of the leading vaccine candidates 
>> have already been gobbled up 
>> <https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4750> by a small contingent of 
>> wealthy nations, including Australia, Canada, Japan, the United 
>> Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Together, these 
>> countries account for just 14 percent of the global population. At 
>> least a fifth of the world’s people will not get access to COVID-19 
>> vaccines until 2022, and many low-income countries will have to wait 
>> until 2023 or 2024 for full immunization. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 
>> the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned 
>> on January 25 that vaccine inequity could cost the global economy 
>> $9.2 trillion 
>> <https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19-25-january-2021>.
>> Ensuring that billions of people get swift access to COVID-19 
>> vaccines was always going to be difficult, especially as many 
>> national governments have hoarded supplies. But the task has been 
>> made even harder by another kind of hoarding—of intellectual property 
>> and technology. Western governments and pharmaceutical companies 
>> could agree to loosen or temporarily suspend intellectual property 
>> protections and transfer technology to manufacturers in the 
>> developing world. Doing so would speed the production of more 
>> affordable and effective vaccines for broad distribution. But wealthy 
>> countries and their pharmaceutical giants have been unwilling to take 
>> this step, clinging instead to an old, quasi-colonial economic order 
>> that disadvantages poor countries—and threatens to prolong the pandemic.
>> Ten of the 13 leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates have been or are 
>> being developed by pharmaceutical companies in wealthy countries. 
>> These companies have mostly limited the manufacture of the vaccines 
>> to partners and suppliers in the West, leaving a number of potential 
>> producers in poorer countries in the cold. More broadly sharing 
>> intellectual property and technology with producers in the developing 
>> world could help significantly increase production of vaccines and 
>> reduce vaccine inequity. But only a few Western pharmaceutical 
>> companies have agreed to such technology transfers: U.S. giant 
>> Johnson & Johnson has licensed its vaccine for production by Aspen 
>> Pharmacare in South Africa, while the British-Swedish multinational 
>> AstraZeneca and the U.S. company Novavax 
>> <https://ir.novavax.com/news-releases/news-release-details/novavax-announces-covid-19-vaccine-manufacturing-agreement-serum>have 
>> entered into agreements with the Serum Institute of India.
>> *Stay informed.*
>> In-depth analysis delivered weekly.
>> There should be many more of these sorts of arrangements, since poor 
>> countries have the capacity to ramp up production. At least 40 other 
>> potential manufacturers in 14 developing countries already form a 
>> network <https://www.dcvmn.org/> that makes around 3.5 billion doses 
>> per year of various types of vaccines. But last May, Pfizer’s CEO 
>> <https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2020/05/28/who-voluntary-pool-patents-pfizer/> 
>> dismissed as “nonsense” and “dangerous” the WHO’s efforts to 
>> encourage companies to voluntarily share their technology and 
>> intellectual property in the interest of making more broadly 
>> available vaccines, treatments, and other necessary products in the 
>> fight against COVID-19. No major pharmaceutical company has yet 
>> offered any contribution to the so-called technology access pool that 
>> the WHO set up to combat the pandemic.
>> This unfortunate dynamic compelled India and South Africa—backed by 
>> Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, and Pakistan—to cosponsor a proposal 
>> <https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/IP/C/W669.pdf&Open=True> 
>> in October asking the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive, for 
>> the duration of the pandemic, the trade body’s treaty on protecting 
>> intellectual property. The proposal won the further support of around 
>> 100 mostly low-or middle-income countries.
>> The WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property 
>> Rights 
>> <https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_01_e.htm>, also 
>> known as TRIPS, requires the organization’s 164 member states to 
>> enforce most intellectual property protections for vaccines, trade 
>> secrets, diagnostic kits, ventilators, and other medical equipment. 
>> Supporters of the proposal argued that waiving these protections 
>> would allow manufacturers all over the world to more rapidly meet 
>> global demand for vaccines. If wealthy countries consented to the 
>> waiver, poor countries would probably not have to wait until 2023 or 
>> 2024 to inoculate the majority of their populations. The waiver would 
>> also help ensure that the world has a reserve supply of effective 
>> doses if some vaccine candidates prove to be ineffective, as is likely.
>> The clash between wealthy countries and poor ones over the right to 
>> scientific knowledge is not new.
>> But the United Kingdom, the United States, and the member states of 
>> the European Union—countries that are incidentally hoarding COVID-19 
>> vaccine supplies and technology—opposed 
>> <https://www.devex.com/news/at-wto-a-battle-for-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-98787>the 
>> request, and major pharmaceutical companies 
>> <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/10/opinion/coronavirus-vaccine-patents.html> 
>> also voiced objections. They claim that the waiver is too broad, that 
>> it does not acknowledge the potential lack of technical capacity or 
>> raw materials in poor countries, and that the WTO’s current 
>> intellectual property regime already provides sufficient flexibility 
>> in the case of public health emergencies. This resistance persists 
>> despite the fact that the European Union and the United Kingdom are 
>> now embroiled in a dispute 
>> <https://www.ft.com/content/d814b2dc-a803-4680-b8c4-ffa2a4c370ad> 
>> over a shortfall in supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine. WTO member 
>> states will meet again in early February to discuss the matter ahead 
>> of the general meeting of the trade body in March, when the proposal 
>> will likely be rejected or severely limited.
>> The clash between wealthy countries and poor ones over the right to 
>> scientific knowledge and technology is not new. In the early 1970s—a 
>> time when many new nation-states were emerging from disintegrating 
>> European empires—the UN General Assembly resolved to declare a “New 
>> International Economic Order 
>> <http://www.un-documents.net/s6r3201.htm>,” in which wealthy 
>> countries would help formerly colonized ones become more self-reliant 
>> through the transfer of technology. Proponents of the scheme imagined 
>> such transfers as a form of reparation for decades of imperial 
>> plunder. But the wealthy states never accepted or acted upon the 
>> resolution.
>> Instead, they did the opposite. Edmund Pratt, then CEO of Pfizer, 
>> feared that manufacturers in developing countries would compete with 
>> companies like his for these new markets. Along with other business 
>> leaders, he encouraged U.S. officials in the 1970s and early 1980s to 
>> integrate the defense of intellectual property into U.S trade policy. 
>> The Reagan administration then rallied the European and Japanese 
>> governments to this cause, helping to place intellectual property at 
>> the heart of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This 
>> agreement required member states to enforce intellectual property 
>> rights in the multilateral trading system for the first time, even 
>> when many developing countries didn’t maintain such requirements. 
>> Although this deal protected the investments that wealthy countries 
>> and their companies made in scientific, technological, and cultural 
>> goods, it also prevented low- and middle-income countries from 
>> competing on an even footing in the burgeoning knowledge economy. The 
>> deal became formalized as the TRIPS Agreement in 1995 when wealthy 
>> countries pushed it through the WTO over the objections of 
>> lower-income countries, which were eventually railroaded into 
>> signing. Since then—and at the behest of their private sectors—Japan, 
>> the United States, and European countries have also pursued bilateral 
>> free trade agreements with many developing countries to further 
>> strengthen intellectual property protections.
>> To oppose the proposal before the WTO, wealthy countries draw on the 
>> same arguments and claims they used to set up the current 
>> international intellectual property regime. In October, theBritish 
>> government 
>> <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-statement-to-the-trips-council-item-15> 
>> argued that intellectual property protections won’t actually prevent 
>> access to vaccines, treatments, or related technologies. But that is 
>> demonstrably false: these rules have invariably driven up prices of 
>> important medications and put them out of reach of the world’s 
>> poorest. When the HIV/AIDS epidemic was reaching its peak in the 
>> 1990s, millions of people died in the developing world in part 
>> because the necessary drugs cost an astronomical $10,000 per person 
>> per year. Nearly a decade later—and after weathering lawsuits from 39 
>> pharmaceutical companies 
>> <https://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/20/world/drug-makers-drop-south-africa-suit-over-aids-medicine.html>—hard-hit 
>> South Africa was able to remove some patent barriers. Prices for 
>> antiretroviral drugs dropped significantly, and many more people 
>> received treatment.
>> Proponents of the TRIPS Agreement restrictions, including 
>> governments, pharmaceutical companies, and even the editorial board 
>> of /The Wall Street Journal/ 
>> <https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-global-covid-vaccine-heist-11605829343>, 
>> claim that the existing order is adaptable enough as it is. They 
>> point to flexibilities in the WTO rules that allow member states to 
>> override patents by issuing what is known as a “compulsory license” 
>> in the case of a public health emergency—permitting a manufacturer in 
>> the developing world, for instance, to produce a vaccine or treatment 
>> patented by a company in the West. But compulsory licenses, while 
>> useful, aren’t conducive to situations that demand swift action. The 
>> process for securing such a license is laborious: in the case of 
>> COVID-19 vaccines, for instance, manufacturers would first have to 
>> show they attempted to negotiate a voluntary license with the 
>> relevant pharmaceutical company, which has proven hard to accomplish 
>> in all but a few cases because the patent holders can simply refuse 
>> or delay the process. Even when such licenses are granted, they tend 
>> to limit the number of countries to which the generic manufacturer in 
>> a developing country can supply the product. Generic manufacturers 
>> also would have to secure a separate license for each product they 
>> sought to make. Developing countries are usually wary of issuing 
>> compulsory licenses because they fear that wealthy countries, 
>> pressured by their pharmaceutical companies, might levy trade 
>> sanctions in retaliation or lodge a case at the WTO Dispute 
>> Settlement Body claiming that the developing country has not 
>> correctly adhered to the rules of the TRIPS Agreement.
>> Intellectual property rules have invariably put important medications 
>> out of reach of the world’s poorest.
>> Those defending the current system also contend that low- and 
>> middle-income countries do not have the technical capacity to 
>> manufacture and distribute vaccines at scale, especially ones that 
>> depend on sophisticated mRNA (messenger RNA) technology, such as 
>> those from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. But this argument rehearses a 
>> tired trope, the likes of which have been disproven in the past. In 
>> the 1980s, a Western firm refused to transfer vaccine technology to 
>> the Indian company Shantha Biotechnics, claiming that Shantha’s 
>> scientists would not be able to understand the required recombinant 
>> technology to produce the vaccines. Shantha subsequently went on to 
>> develop its own recombinant vaccine for hepatitis B 
>> <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110116/>, which became 
>> available for $1 per dose and enabled UNICEF and other organizations 
>> to undertake low-cost mass vaccinations. Indeed, the Indian company 
>> Gennova 
>> <https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-s-first-mrna-vaccine-for-covid-19-heads-for-human-trials-120121101210_1.html> 
>> has already entered into phase I/II clinical trials with its own mRNA 
>> COVID-19 vaccine. Alternative manufacturing capability for 
>> sophisticated COVID-19 vaccines very likely exists in the developing 
>> world.
>> The most familiar argument against the suspension of intellectual 
>> property rules is that such a dismissal of patent protections will 
>> kill private innovation and hurt future investment in new vaccines 
>> and technologies. But this claim, too, is unsound. Taxpayer and 
>> nonprofit dollars <https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55170756> have 
>> significantly financed most of the leading COVID-19 vaccines, as well 
>> as the development of the basic science 
>> <https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/for-billion-dollar-covid-vaccines-basic-government-funded-science-laid-the-groundwork/> 
>> underlying the mRNA platform. Pharmaceutical companies stepped up to 
>> the plate only after the public and nonprofit sectors had assumed the 
>> bulk of the risk. Now, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are poised to rake 
>> in $32 billion 
>> <https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/11/business/pfizer-vaccine-covid-moderna-revenue/index.html> 
>> in COVID-19 vaccine sales in 2021 alone—and much more if mRNA 
>> platforms become more prevalent in the future. Pfizer-BioNTech and 
>> Moderna may well be unwilling to enter into any technology transfer 
>> agreement precisely because they hope to cash in on mRNA technology. 
>> It would be a catastrophic moral failure—and a failure of market 
>> policy—to allow private interests to seek profits from publicly 
>> funded technology while millions perish.
>> In April 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, Ursula von 
>> der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said that a 
>> future COVID-19 vaccine 
>> <https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ac_20_749> 
>> would need to reach “every single corner of the world” at an 
>> affordable price: “This vaccine will be our universal, common good.”
>> Nine months later, those promises ring hollow. The governments of 
>> wealthy countries need to show leadership by encouraging 
>> pharmaceutical companies to work in the interest of the “universal, 
>> common good.” Governments could require their pharmaceutical 
>> companies to enter into technology transfer agreements with at least 
>> three suppliers in the “global South”—or those governments can 
>> support the WTO proposal put forward by India and South Africa to 
>> suspend intellectual property rights during the pandemic. Failing to 
>> do either will only lengthen this pandemic.
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