Pandemic

Research Paper 203, 11 July 2024

The Vaccine Industry After the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Perspective

By Felix Lobo

The purpose of this report is to analyze the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the vaccine industry from an international perspective. The objective is to learn from the experience and contribute to the design of better tools for future vaccine development and manufacturing, as we must be prepared for future emerging infectious diseases with the potential for global expansion. This industry makes fundamental contributions to global social welfare, but from a business point of view it is complex and difficult to manage, and from an economic point of view it is an industry that does not fit the paradigm of competitive market efficiency with notorious market failures.

We examine the impact of the pandemic on innovation and the scientific, technological and industrial development of vaccines and find that certain elements of the industry’s structure have changed, while others have remained. We also summarize the lessons learned from the deployment of some public policies to boost supply and drive demand, paying particular attention to the inequity in the global distribution of vaccines and to the COVAX program. We conclude that some of the policies have been very effective, while others have not fully achieved their objectives. From the achievements and limitations, lessons can be drawn for the reformulation and expansion of global public policies that would stimulate R&D, manufacturing, distribution and access.

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Research Paper 202, 28 June 2024

Constraints to and Prospects for Sustainable Livestock Sector Practices in Argentina with Emphasis on Antimicrobial Usage

By David Oseguera Montiel

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a top threat for global health and development as it has the potential to become the next pandemic. Agriculture roughly accounts for three-quarters of all the antimicrobial usage. Modern animal husbandry systems use antimicrobials for disease prevention and growth promotion. Regulations and restrictions regarding antimicrobial use in agriculture vary across the regions of the world. This paper explores the situation of the Argentina livestock sector with regard to antimicrobial use. Argentina is renowned as a global food producer, notably for its grain and livestock production potential. This paper analyzes the constraints to and prospects for transitioning towards a more sustainable livestock farming production in Argentina by relying less on antimicrobials and without compromising productivity. The livestock sector in Argentina has embarked on the intensification of farming, especially beef farming, in the last thirty years. Farming intensification generally requires the use of greater quantities of antibiotics. Alternative sustainable intensification is necessary to overcome antimicrobial overuse. Various factors, including economic, social, and cultural, shape consumption patterns. The Argentine farming sector needs to focus on these context-specific situations, which will drive animal food production.

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Research Paper 197, 28 May 2024

Compulsory Licensing as a Remedy Against Excessive Pricing of Life-Saving Medicines  

By Behrang Kianzad

The COVID-19 crisis intensified decade-long debates on the interaction between intellectual property rights (IPRs), competition law and access to affordable life-saving treatments and vaccines. Compulsory licensing of patented medicines is a tried-and-tested method to expand access, particularly in a situation of “national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency” within the meaning of Article 31(b) of the TRIPS Agreement. Some legislations, such as European competition law, offer a toolbox for curbing the exercise of IPRs if they would be found in conflict with certain competition rules, such as rules prohibiting excessive pricing by dominant undertakings. The paper analyses the interface between intellectual property law and competition law in general, moving on to the settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on this matter. It provides a general overview of legal and economics arguments related to excessive pricing prohibition and the main case law of European competition law on the matter and discusses whether compulsory licensing as a remedy against excessive pricing of patented life-saving pharmaceutical products can be a viable and appropriate remedy. Finally, the paper offers policy recommendations relating to compulsory licensing based on excessive pricing.

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South Centre Statement – WHA77, 27 May 2024

Statement of the South Centre to the 77th WHA

Agenda Item 3

A critical week for global health with the 77th session of the World Health Assembly. For decision, the future of the pandemic instrument and IHR amendment negotiations.

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IsDB, SC, UNCTAD & UNOSSC Joint Publication, April 2024

Leveraging the Potential of South-South and Triangular Cooperation for the Decade of Action

A joint publication by Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), South Centre, United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

This document was prepared for a Side Event to the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit and Third South Summit, held in Kampala, Uganda in January 2024.

This joint initiative is meant to provide a detailed look at the current state of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC) and consider how international development cooperation and the role of developing countries can be enhanced in the future.

The paper aims to, inter alia, explore the landscape of SSTrC uncovered by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent global events; look at how the pandemic acted as a stress test for international cooperation; consider the national institution building necessary for effectively engaging in SSTrC; and suggest different ways forward for leveraging SSTrC towards building resilient societies and achieving national development priorities, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It considers the possibilities of leveraging SSTrC for enhancing the transfer of knowledge, experiences and technologies within the Global South and increased capacity building in developing countries.

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Policy Brief 128, 25 April 2024

The WHO Intergovernmental Negotiating Body process and the revised draft of the WHO Pandemic Agreement (A/INB/9R/3)

by Nirmalya Syam & Viviana Muñoz Tellez

This Policy Brief considers the negotiating process conducted so far by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for an instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response under the World Health Organization (WHO), and some aspects of the draft text for the Resumed Ninth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB9R), as well as of the draft proposed resolution for consideration by the World Health Assembly in May 2024. The Policy Brief provides recommendations to assist member States in their negotiations during the INB9R to be held from April 29 to 10 May 2024.

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SouthViews No. 261, 23 April 2024

Proposal for a new Article 11bis in the WHO Pandemic Accord: a Pandemic Technology Transfer Mechanism

by Olga Gurgula and Luke McDonagh

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the failure of voluntary mechanisms during global emergencies and exemplifies the need for effective involuntary technology transfer tools. The WHO Pandemic Accord offers an opportunity to provide an effective mechanism to build upon existing TRIPS flexibilities in the specific pandemic context. We propose a new provision (Article 11bis) that outlines a mechanism on cross-border procedure of non-voluntary technology transfer during a pandemic. This procedure could be invoked in a pandemic scenario in which voluntary technology transfer mechanisms have failed to provide sufficient supplies of a needed pandemic product.

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SC Statement to the WHO INB9, March 2024

South Centre Statement at the 9th session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

March 2024

The South Centre underscores the imperative for an international binding pandemic treaty to prevent the recurrence of past failures like those witnessed during the COVID-19 crisis.

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SouthViews No. 259, 15 de marzo de 2024

¿Adónde va el tratado internacional vinculante negociado en la OMS contra futuras pandemias?

Por Germán Velásquez

La idea de un tratado internacional sobre pandemias es evitar que se repitan los fracasos que se produjeron durante la crisis del COVID-19. Muchas cosas no funcionaron, pero el fracaso más flagrante fue la desigual distribución y acceso a las vacunas, diagnósticos y tratamientos. Se necesita un tratado internacional basado en los principios de equidad, inclusión y transparencia para garantizar un acceso universal y equitativo.

El actual proyecto de texto del “tratado pandémico” está lejos de responder adecuadamente los retos planteados durante la crisis de COVID-19. Los países desarrollados han debilitado el texto inicial. Los países desarrollados han debilitado la versión inicial del borrador, y el texto está ahora lleno de matices innecesarios. La expresión “cuando proceda” y otras formulaciones típicas de las disposiciones voluntarias aparecen ahora repetidamente. Se trata de proteger y garantizar el interés público y la salud de los ciudadanos como un derecho, o de defender los intereses de una industria que pretende enriquecerse sin límites. El tratado contra futuras pandemias será uno de los temas centrales de la próxima Asamblea Mundial de la Salud de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) en mayo de 2024. Si los países del Sur, que representan la mayoría de los miembros de la OMS, se unen con una visión clara y fuerte de la salud pública y los países del Norte actúan con lucidez, siguiendo las pruebas científicas al tiempo que persiguen la seguridad para todos, el tratado contribuirá al bienestar de las generaciones futuras. Si al final un pequeño grupo de países se opone a un tratado con disposiciones significativas, no debemos olvidar que la OMS es una institución democrática donde existe la posibilidad de votar.

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SouthViews No. 259, 15 mars 2024

Où va le traité international contraignant négocié à l’OMS pour lutter contre les futures pandémies ?

Par Germán Velásquez

L’idée d’un traité international sur les pandémies est d’éviter de répéter les échecs qui se sont produits lors de la crise du COVID-19. Beaucoup de choses n’ont pas fonctionné, mais l’échec le plus flagrant a été la distribution inégale des vaccins, des diagnostics et des traitements, ainsi que l’accès à ces derniers. Un traité international fondé sur les principes d’équité, d’inclusion et de transparence est nécessaire pour garantir un accès universel et équitable.

Le projet de texte actuel du “traité sur les pandémies” est loin de répondre de manière adéquate aux défis rencontrés lors de la crise du COVID-19. Les pays développés ont affaibli la version initiale du projet, et le texte est maintenant plein de nuances inutiles. L’expression « le cas échéant » et d’autres formulations typiques des dispositions volontaires apparaissent désormais à plusieurs reprises. Il s’agit soit de protéger et d’assurer l’intérêt public et la santé des citoyens comme un droit, soit de défendre les intérêts d’une industrie qui cherche à s’enrichir sans limites. Le traité contre les futures pandémies sera l’un des sujets centraux de la prochaine Assemblée mondiale de la santé de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) en mai 2024. Si les pays du Sud, qui représentent la majorité des membres de l’OMS, s’unissent autour d’une vision claire et forte de la santé publique et que les pays du Nord agissent avec lucidité, en suivant les preuves scientifiques tout en recherchant la sécurité pour tous, le traité contribuera au bien-être des générations futures. Si, en fin de compte, un petit groupe de pays s’oppose à un traité contenant des dispositions significatives, nous ne devons pas oublier que l’OMS est une institution démocratique où il est possible de voter.

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SouthViews No. 259, 15 March 2024

Where is the Binding International Treaty Negotiated at the WHO Against Future Pandemics Going?

by Germán Velásquez

The idea of an international pandemic treaty is to avoid repeating the failures that occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. Many things did not work, but the most glaring failure was the unequal distribution of, and access to, vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. An international treaty based on the principles of equity, inclusiveness and transparency is needed to ensure universal and equitable access.

The current draft text of the “pandemic treaty” is far from adequately responding to the problems faced during the COVID-19 crisis. Developed countries have weakened the initial version of the draft, and the text is now full of unnecessary nuances. The expression “where appropriate” and other such wordings, typical of voluntary provisions, now appear repeatedly. It is a question of either protecting and ensuring the public interest and the health of citizens as a right, or of defending the interests of an industry that seeks to enrich itself without limits. The treaty against future pandemics will be one of the central topics at the next World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2024. If the countries of the South, accounting for the majority of the WHO membership, unite with a clear and strong public health vision and the countries of the North act lucidly, follow scientific evidence while pursuing safety for all, the treaty will contribute to the well-being of future generations. If in the end a small group of countries oppose a treaty with meaningful provisions, we must not forget that the WHO is a democratic institution where there is the possibility to vote.

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SouthViews No. 256, 22 February 2024

How Should the WHO Pandemic Treaty Negotiations Tackle Intellectual Property?

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

The WHO pandemic instrument should commit the Parties to limit the exclusionary effects that government-granted patents and other IPRs may have during pandemics in support of rapid diffusion of new vaccines, diagnostics, medicines and other tools and facilitate collaboration and freedom to operate. The current draft text of Article 11 would not make any change to the status quo.

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