Developing countries are findings it tough to strike the deals necessary to secure shipments of lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines. While the rich have primarily monopolised the global supply of the vaccines in production and in-development.
COVAX is a global initiative set up early last year to fund and procure an equal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, with richer countries paying into the system and poorer countries receiving the vaccine free of charge. But COVAX’s supply has been slow and largely supplanted by bulk national procurement at the expense of most of the world's population.
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Addressing the lopsided global supply of vaccines, Boris Johnson has announced at the meeting of the G7 this Friday that there needs to be a greater focus on improving global access to the vaccines, as well as pledging that most of the UK surplus supply of the vaccines will go to poorer countries.
More manufacturing is good, but only action on patents will secure equal vaccination
However, campaigners from Global Justice Now, Doctors Without Borders, and the Indian and South African governments are saying this is nor far enough. They are calling for a temporary suspension of global patent rules, arguing that an IP waiver would allow countries to manufacture the vaccines themselves until the pandemic is officially defined as over.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said: “The world is now divided into two – those countries that are rapidly vaccinating their people against Covid-19, and those that have no chance of achieving immunity for several years. Johnson is right that we need to ramp up manufacturing around the world, and we encourage Britain to support this effort. But we already have under-utilised production capacity.”
“The elephant in the room is the patent system. While most countries are calling on the WTO to suspend patents so they can start producing more vaccines now, G7 governments, which have bought huge quantities of the vaccines available, are blocking this solution. It’s hypocrisy; they are putting corporate monopolies ahead of the lives of people across the world.”