In an opinion piece he wrote for the British newspaper The Guardian, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) says the world must be “on the warpath”. In anticipation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting next week, on the day that marks a year after the pandemic was declared, the official supports a patent waiver that would allow countries to make and sell cheap copies of vaccines that are in other places were invented to make sure everyone is immunized against the coronavirus.
“We are experiencing an extraordinary moment in history and we have to face the challenge,” he says. “Emergency trade rules are flexible and certainly a global pandemic that has shut down many societies and caused so much damage to businesses – big and small – alike. We have to be on the warpath and it is important to make it clear what is needed. “
The WTO will discuss a proposal to surrender intellectual property rights – in this case vaccination patents – submitted by South Africa and India and now supported by 100 countries. Member governments are divided on this issue: support low and middle income countries, rich countries oppose it.
In the article, the official argues that manufacturers will still receive a refund: “The temporary waiver of patents does not mean that innovators will be left out. As during the HIV crisis or war, companies are given rights to the products they make. “
“We thank ???? & ???? for suggesting @wto to waive patents for medical devices for # COVID19 until the end of the pandemic. Next week, the partners of WHO & #COVAX will meet with partners from government and Industry meet to identify bottlenecks in production and discuss how they can be resolved “- @ DrTedros
– World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 5, 2021
Pharmaceutical companies and the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Europe strongly oppose the exemption, with or without compensation, using the argument of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations based in Switzerland to lower corporate returns a stumbling block for innovation.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says a number of measures should be recommended. “Whether dose distribution, technology transfer or voluntary licensing, as promoted by the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool initiative itself [C-TAP] WHO or the surrender of intellectual property rights must remove all obstacles. “
However, investors deny that any of these measures are underway. At C-TAP, which aims to encourage companies to share technology with low and middle income countries, “civil society is just screaming about it. No company has made a commitment, ”said Mohga Kamal-Yanni, advisor to the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
Of the 225 million vaccine doses administered to date, the WHO Director General said, “The vast majority have come from a few rich countries and vaccine manufacturers, while low and middle income countries watch and wait. A me-first approach [eu primeiro, em português] It may serve short-term political interests, but it is self-destructive and will result in a longer recovery, with trade and travel continuing to suffer. Every opportunity to defeat this virus must be seized with both hands. “
Tedros commended pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for sharing licenses so that the vaccine can be manufactured worldwide. However, activists claim that even AstraZeneca’s behavior is flawed. Under pressure to ship more cans to Europe, the company is sending 10 million cans to the UK via the Serum Institute of India – which is expected to be the main supplier to low-income countries via COVAX.