UNITED NATIONS, August 30 (IPS) – The panel that has spent nearly a year negotiating the terms of a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid-19 medicines will meet in September after being held up in the European summer.
As new variants spread rapidly across the world, the predicament in Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights of the World Trade Organization (TRIPS) The commission will likely result in additional delays in obtaining vaccines and other medicines for billions of people in low- and middle-income countries.
The waiver, initially proposed by India and South Africa in October 2020, has attracted sponsorship and support from several other countries. After a large-scale campaign, the United States added its support in May. However, while European Parliament The proposal is also supported, and not backed by the European Union, due in part to continued opposition from Germany, which is home to a large pharmaceutical industry.
The decreasing number of countries that refrained from supporting the waiver continued to derail the negotiations until their cessation at the end of July. This is despite the fact that the waiver is being floated only as a temporary measure until the epidemic is brought under control.
Leena Menghaney, President Doctors Without Borders campaign In South Asia, he told IBS, countries that proposed the exemption were demanding the right to produce their own medicines and vaccines.
“Many middle-income countries have the technical capacity to produce Covid-19 drugs and vaccines,” Minghani said, adding that opponents of the exemption use arguments that ignore the technical capacity that many countries already have to produce generic drugs.
“It’s a pleasure to say you’re not ready for this,” says Manghani. “What countries want is the right to produce these medicines and vaccines.”
This isn’t the first time that TRIPS’ strict rules for drugs have been put under a microscope.
The current intellectual property system has also added to inequality of access to tuberculosis drugs, contributing to the emergence of new multidrug-resistant variants that threaten to perpetuate one of the world’s most uneven epidemics.
The intellectual property system does not distribute the results of science well. It’s not a system where people have equal access to search results, Minghani said. “Governments have been funding research, but its results have not been equitably distributed,” she added.
“Often this research originated in public laboratories, and the most dangerous part of research on HIV, hepatitis C and now Covid-19 has occurred in public laboratories.”
The strict TRIPS barriers to intellectual property were also challenged by South Africa when millions of people were dying because they could not afford expensive new treatments. Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, is one of the many proponents of TRIPS exemption besides World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom.
“We cannot repeat the painful lessons from the early years of the AIDS response, when people in wealthier countries returned to their health, while millions of people in developing countries were left behind,” Byanyima said in support of the waiver.
So far, developing countries have found their efforts to purchase vaccines beset with difficulties, unfair prices, and secret deals. Even sharing the Astra Zeneca vaccine was not easy even though researchers who developed the vaccine at Oxford University had promised to do so, Anis Choudary, former director of the Macroeconomic and Development Policy Division at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, told IPS. They will not make a profit from the vaccine while the epidemic continues.
The issue is that all of these agreements are very opaque. In this case, the parent company dictates nearly all of the terms including who can be the distributor of that drug or vaccine, the price it charges, and to which customer.”
Both South Africa and India have found themselves tied up in complicated deals that mean they have little say in who sells their vaccines or where they can buy their supplies. So far, European countries have been able to secure lower prices for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine compared to many low- and middle-income countries.
As vaccine waiver negotiations weaken, global efforts to address vaccine inequality have been based on the COVAX facility, convened by the World Health Organization. However, Chowdhury, who is also an economics professor at Western Sydney University, told IPS that “from the beginning, COVAX was designed to fail.”
As Chowdhury told IPS, COVAX was brought up as an alternative by rich countries “because the pharmaceutical industries refused to join” C-TAP a proposal by the World Health Organization to increase knowledge sharing of Covid-19 technologies between countries on the same day it was launched again may be.
However, even though Dr. Adhanom says that 11 billion doses are needed to end the epidemic, COVAX has only succeeded in accumulating a small percentage of its modest goal of two billion doses of vaccines, and even that small batch of vaccines has yet to reach the countries where It’s much needed since wealthy nations – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK – have also been buying COVAX vaccines. And COVAX is unlikely to attract enough donations, even as the World Health Organization is still struggling to attract funding in the midst of the pandemic.
As Choudary points out, “powerful countries” have cut the UN budget “right and left for many years.”
© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service