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South Africa is leading a backlash against major pharmaceutical companies over access to the Covid vaccine




Leading South African officials say they need to confront global healthcare dominance by major pharmaceutical companies in order to provide more equitable access to vaccines.

A group of people standing in front of the crowd: Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed / AP

© Courtesy of Guardian
Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed / AP

Mustaquim de Gama, South Africa’s representative of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on intellectual property rights, said the battle for the Covid vaccine has turned the power of profit-oriented companies to control the production of critical medicines into developed countries. He said he should warn.

A group of people standing in front of the crowd: At a public hospital in Klerksdorp, South Africa, healthcare professionals are lining up to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

© Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed / AP
At a public hospital in Klerksdorp, South Africa, healthcare professionals are queuing for Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

“We are messing around while Rome is on fire [waiting]”. Mr. Degama said in the countries where many of these pharmaceutical companies are based, Patent waiver proposed by WTO.

Introduced by South Africa and India, the proposal, supported by dozens of developing countries, quickly immunizes more people around the world by evading intellectual property rights and increasing production. Insisted that it could be done.

“The first effective vaccine was ready four or five months ago. If we had the ability to make it, would it make a difference? Yes, I think so.”

Supply is low after developed countries buy more vaccine than needed, leading to predictions that many low-income countries may not be able to reach mass vaccination. Until 2024..

Some vaccines are mainly Covax Initiative It is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global public-private health partnership. However, many claim that donations are too small and rely on inventories that are not used by developed countries.

Rather than relying on conditions set by donors and profit-focused companies, Degama said more structural changes are needed to allow countries to produce their own vaccines.

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“The current infrastructure provides minimal infrastructure and the rest is left to the private sector,” says De Gama. “I don’t think the government should outsource public health responsibilities to private companies that are solely responsible for shareholders.”

He said that the recent sale of AstraZeneca vaccine to South Africa at twice the price paid by European countries requires more transparency about how supply and pricing decisions are made. Said that it was proof of.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) called for an urgent delivery of the vaccine to low-income countries on Thursday to avoid further mutations in the coronavirus. 501Y.V2 variant It has spread throughout southern Africa since it was confirmed in December.

South African prominent businessman Yamkela Makupula said many were angry at the lack of access to the vaccine and were hit by a wave of Covid-19 associated with a new variant while hospitals and the economy were suffering.

Person with a sign: A woman is wearing a mask to protect herself from the coronavirus in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht / AP

© Courtesy of Guardian
In Cape Town, South Africa, women are wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht / AP

“Most countries in the world are facing a recession while having to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Therefore, only parts of the world are vaccinated and the rest with limited resources. Protecting for ourselves is a very flawed strategy, “she said.

“There is no economic recovery strategy that can save South Africa today. It is imperative that we people be vaccinated not only to rebuild the economy but also to save people’s lives.”

Shehnaaz Peer, a general practitioner in the Eastern Cape, said the vaccine “really leads to hope” after seeing an increase in cases, an increase in patients with prolonged Covid symptoms, and an increase in mental health problems, especially among young people. It was.

Roz Scourse, policy adviser to MSF Access, said the EU, alongside other countries hosting major pharmaceutical companies, including the UK, was angry about the undelivered AstraZeneca vaccine while blocking the proposed patent waiver. It was “hypocritical.”

“This is a real picture of what would happen to the EU and other rich countries if we transferred all rights and control of the production and distribution of Covid vaccines to a large multinational corporation during the pandemic.” Scourse says.

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Zain Rizvi, a U.S.-based advocacy group working on access to healthcare, said the government would give more open access to pharmaceutical companies as much of the initial R & D funding came from public funding. He said he should have requested.

“The rich nations had tremendous influence when they were funding these organizations,” he said. “I can’t fully emphasize how exorbitant it is to sit there and have enough capacity but lack of vaccine. It’s morally bankrupt.”

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