Limited global vaccine supply is one of the biggest challenges to ending the pandemic.
Ramping up production and providing financial support are key elements to overcoming the obstacles the world faces. Both actions tackle these issues.
On May 5, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, issued a statement announcing the Biden administration’s support for the proposed measure, first raised at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in November last year by South Africa and India, for a temporary waiver on certain IP (Intellectual Property) rights to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.”
The proposal would allow developing countries to produce their own vaccines under licence from pharmaceutical companies. Many low-income countries may not receive adequate supplies until 2024.
But it’s unlikely the patent waiver will happen soon, if ever. The WTO requires a unanimous decision from governments and pharmaceutical companies. Even if they agreed, few countries have the advanced technology and facilities to manufacture vaccines or source the raw materials.
India is going through a massive crisis with 400,000 new daily cases, yet the Serum Institute of India (which produces the Astra-Zeneca vaccine) lacks the capacity to increase production in the numbers required to suppress the spread of the virus.
83% of the 1.2-billion shots that have gone into arms worldwide have been in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Only 0.3% of doses have been administered in low-income countries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 56% of U.S. adults (145 million) have received at least one dose, and nearly 41% (105 million) are fully vaccinated.
The United States has pledged $4-billion, with $2,500-million donated sofar, to COVAX - a financing channel to support Covid-19 vaccine access to 92 low/middle income governments. 70% of the vaccines were to come from the Serum Institute of India, but the government has banned exports to focus in distribution in their own country.
VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World
President Biden didn’t attend in person, but his virtual presence lent weight to the campaign to call on world leaders to support the drive for vaccine equity.
“The campaign calls on world leaders to pledge $19 billion — the outstanding balance needed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) to get 1.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as tests and treatments, to the world’s poorest countries by the end of 2021.”—Global Citizen.
The event happened Sunday, May 2, at the SoFi Stadium, California. The audience comprised fully vaccinated frontline health care and essential workers.
Hosted by Selena Gomez and chaired by Prince Harry, guests included President Biden, Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, Gayle King, Jimmy Kimmel, Nomzamo Mbatha, Olivia Munn, and Sean Penn.
The concert featured musical performances by Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin, and H.E.R.
Don’t worry if you couldn’t attend. They will broadcast the entire concert 8 pm EST on ABC, ABC News Live, CBS, Fox, AXS TV or listen on iHeart. Or you can watch on YouTube.
See you there!
Let’s count our blessings and offer our support to those less fortunate in other parts of the world.
Nobody is safe until everyone is safe.