The Proposed Pandemic Treaty and the Challenge of the South for a Robust Diplomacy
By Obijiofor Aginam
The motivation for a pandemic treaty is infallible because of the ‘globalization of public health’ in a rapidly evolving interdependence of nations, societies, and peoples. Notwithstanding the lofty purposes of the proposed pandemic treaty as a tool for effective cooperation by member-states of the WHO to address emerging and re-emerging disease pandemics in an inter-dependent world, the proposal nonetheless raises some structural and procedural conundrums for the Global South. The negotiation of a pandemic treaty should, as a matter of necessity, take into account the asymmetries of World Health Organization member-states and the interests of the Global South.
Este espacio es organizado por el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Bolivia, en coordinación con el South Centre y el PNUD Bolivia. El Foro es un espacio de intercambio de información técnica y debate de opciones de política pública al alcance de los países en desarrollo. Incluirá la participación de panelistas internacionales, tanto de organismos internacionales, sociedad civil y representantes de países.
Jueves, 13 de mayo de 2021, 09:00-10:45 (Bolivia) / 15:00-16:45 (Geneva)
A New WHO International Treaty on Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Can It Address the Needs of the Global South?
By Dr. Germán Velásquez and Nirmalya Syam
A recent joint communiqué by 25 Heads of Government and the WHO Director-General have called for the negotiation of a pandemic treaty to enable countries around the world to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the mechanisms at the disposal of WHO for preparedness and response to pandemics. The use of binding instruments to promote and protect health in the context of pandemics is needed. If WHO Member States decide that an international treaty to prepare and respond to pandemics is the way forward, it would be important to have clarity from the outset on the elements and areas that will be the subject of negotiation. The first step should be to identify the aspects of pandemic preparedness and response that the current crisis has revealed are not working, and how to build up on the existing instruments, notably the International Health Regulations (IHR). This paper discusses some of the critical issues that should be addressed in such a treaty if negotiations are launched, in view of the needs of countries at different levels of development and with disparate capacities to implement treaty obligations.
Spain’s submission at the EU’s Porto Social Summit
Spain’s submission at the European Union’s Porto Social Summit proposing to adapt global rules on intellectual property, in particular the flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), to fight global pandemics is welcome.
Expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines to reach developing countries
Lift the barriers to fight the pandemic in the Global South
By Carlos M. Correa
The unfolding of COVID-19 has shown that the international system has been unable to ensure equal access to the vaccines and other products necessary to fight the pandemic. While the need for a strong response remains obvious, proposals for scaling up the production of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe are still blocked in the World Trade Organization.
La covid-19 et l’impératif d’une organisation internationale
À partir de début 2020, le monde a dû faire face à un considérable défi sanitaire, économique et social avec l’épidémie de la COVID-19. La crise s’est poursuivie et aggravée dans la plupart des pays du monde. Beaucoup ont voulu explorer des réponses sans prendre réellement en compte les avis des principaux organismes internationaux dans le domaine de la santé, au premier rang desquels l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS). L’OMS fait l’objet de critiques. Il est néanmoins fondamental qu’une agence multilatérale comme elle puisse exercer une véritable autorité et jouer un rôle de chef de le indépendant et en défense de l’ensemble des pays de la planète. Alors, comment faire pour qu’elle puisse jouer ce rôle ? Ce livre contribue à apporter des réponses à cette question, en s’appuyant sur les réflexions développées par le Centre Sud, un organisme intergouvernemental qui défend les perspectives des pays du Sud. Il aborde notamment l’avancement des réflexions et débats concernant l’accès aux médicaments et vaccins pour répondre à cette pandémie ou à d’éventuelles crises ultérieures.
Scope of Compulsory License and Government Use of Patented Medicines in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines.
These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted (read our Call for Action on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis here).
The South Centre offers a guide for the issuance of compulsory licenses and government use, see here, aquí en español.
The table below provides information of instances of their use.
The TRIPS waiver proposal: an urgent measure to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccines
by Henrique Zeferino de Menezes
Despite multilateral commitments and political statements of solidarity and cooperation to guarantee the availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other relevant technologies for control and treatment), the scenario after the beginning of vaccination is marked by the deepening of vaccine nationalism, the concentration of inputs and vaccines production, and the uneven distribution of options of vaccine doses already approved for use. This pattern of production restrictions and unequal access will lead to an increase in international inequalities, leaving a large part of the world to have access to vaccines not until 2024. While advanced purchase agreements (APAs) among pharmaceutical companies and some developed countries are multiplying, the proposed mechanisms for voluntary licensing of technologies and the COVAX Facility do not achieve their goal of democratizing access to vaccines. In this sense, the current TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver proposal seems to be the political and institutional response with the greatest potential to guarantee the scaling of the production of pharmaceutical inputs, allowing the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to ensure timely, sufficient, and affordable access to all technologies developed to fight COVID-19.
Access to Medical Equipment in a Pandemic Situation: Importance of Localized Supply Chains and 3D Printing
By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD
The response to the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the weaknesses of the free trade system and failures of the traditional supply chains. Public health preparedness for future pandemics demands nation-states to increase their local production of medical supplies in order to reduce their dependence on third countries. Globally connected local production, enabled by digital fabrication tools, is arguably the best policy response to collaboratively address supply-chain vulnerabilities. 3D printing technology, which is the most prominent manifestation of digital fabrication ecosystems, can play a key role in enhancing the local production capacity in a time- and cost-efficient manner. This paper calls for an increased focus on local production and proposes a more systematic use of 3D printing capabilities to address shortages of critical medical equipment in a health emergency.