Since the beginning of the pandemic, Covid-19 has been an excellent highlighter of inequality. While anyone, regardless of wealth, gender, nationality or age, can get the virus, disadvantaged communities and individuals are generally paying a higher price.
Among the inequalities is the gap between rich and poor countries in vaccine use. Not only do low-income countries have fewer vaccine storage options to rely on those that do not require extremely low storage temperatures, but they do not have access to as many existing vaccine doses as possible.
To gain an understanding of inequality, the US currently administers 17 doses of the vaccine for every 100 people. Most developing countries have not yet received a dose, and of those who have started their campaign, they have administered less than one dose per 100 people.
A way in which developing countries can have a fairer blow to getting vaccines as well as other Covid-19 treatments and protective equipment by doing them themselves.
To do this, there is a group of countries led by India and South Africa proposed the World Trade Organization (WTO) implement an exception to its regulations to allow a suspension of international intellectual property rights for technologies fighting Covid-19. In practice, the suspension of the Intellectual Property Rights Trade Agreement, or TRIPS, would leave countries producing the vaccine, or other medicines and technologies, without having to pay the manufacturer-imposed fee, which is in the amount unaffordable cases for poor governments.
Western manufacturers are not enthusiastic about this. PhRMA, a U.S. lobbying organization representing major pharmaceutical companies, attacked the initiative and demanded U.S. pressure not to allow it. But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the newly appointed director general of the WTO who was previously chair of GAVI, an international organization working to subsidize access to vaccines for poor countries, has made it clear that its priority is to promote of equal access to vaccines and other Covid-19. technology
This does not necessarily mean that the WTO will suspend patents. In fact, Okonjo-Iweala has suggested that companies reach licensing agreements with poor countries, as AstraZeneca did with Serum Institute of India, the largest facility in the world for the production of vaccines.
But while important, allowing patent exemptions makes it difficult for poor countries to have fair access to Covid-19 treatments. This is why advocates for global fair access to medicines are pushing for more reforms. According to Jamie Love, a drug access lawyer and director of International Ecology Knowledge, an organization that works on knowledge sharing and governance, has several reforms, both short-term and long-term, that can make the global supply of medicines more equitable, not only for this pandemic, but also for those in the future.
Open the market
As of April 2020, some big ones health equality organizations have supported the WTO to encourage rich countries to open their markets to Covid-19 medicinal products from developing countries. Currently, according to the TRIPS regulation, the richest countries in the world were needed decide to import medicine produced under compulsory licensing in developing countries. (A mandatory license means that a government mandates the making of a public good by paying a certain fee, without negotiating with the patent holder.) The principle behind this is that rich countries pay for the development of medicines. certain, and poor countries can do them for a fraction of the price, but only for their own internal market, so as not to bring competition to drug companies in rich countries.
This, however, makes it very difficult for drug manufacturers in developing countries, especially those without large domestic markets, to secure the necessary investments, essentially slowing down the timing of production and distribution of treatments. This is always a problem, but it is especially dangerous at a time when the whole world is in a race to produce enough vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, so making an exception to this requirement, even temporarily, would help greatly increasing the production of treatments outside rich countries.
That’s the way he does it, not just what he does
In the long run, removing some patent applications is essential. But in an emergency, it will not do much if the drug manufacturers are not willing to share the methods and techniques required to produce the vaccine.
Without a commitment to share knowledge about vaccine and drug production, developing countries will still be far behind in their race to tackle Covid-19. This division may come as a result of the exclusion of TRIPS, but the WTO may also encourage countries to sign an additional clear commitment to this division.
While knowledge and processes can be complex to transfer, as they often require staff mobility and an investment in local training, there are existing examples that show this can be done quickly and effectively. For example, Pfizer was able to absorb BioNTech expertise to accelerate the development of the vaccine they are producing together.