A Response to COVID-19 and Beyond: Expanding African Capacity in Vaccine Production
By Carlos M. Correa
The unequal global distribution of vaccines against the deadly COVID-19 virus has cast a spotlight on the lack of access to vaccines on the African continent, and the vulnerability that such a lack places on both the economies of African nations and the health of their people. Various initiatives have been launched to overcome the dependence of African nations on vaccines produced elsewhere. If implemented in timely and effective ways, those initiatives will contribute to the diversification of African economies and strengthen the capacity of nations on the continent to address their public health needs during pandemics and at other times. While establishing a viable vaccine industry on the continent presents serious challenges, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can provide the framework for leveraging economies of scale to stimulate the production of needed vaccines across the region.
Compulsory licensing vs. the IP waiver: what is the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic?
By Olga Gurgula
This policy brief examines the currently discussed proposals at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that aim to resolve the problem of the production shortages of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes the two key submissions, i.e. the proposal by South Africa and India on the Intellectual Property (IP) waiver, partially supported by the United States (US), and the European Union (EU) proposal to clarify the use of compulsory licensing. While each of these mechanisms may help to improve the production of COVID-19 vaccines to various degrees, there is intense debate about which of these proposals is the most effective. This policy brief outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each of them with a view to informing the policy decisions by WTO Members on the best way to promptly accelerate the vaccine production that is urgently needed today. It concludes that the proposed IP waiver is a more effective solution for addressing the current emergency.