Taking up the vaccine arguments that appeared on this site two months ago, let's now see if something has changed for the rich states against the less well-off: is profit or human life worth more?
After countries around the world began vaccinating their residents against COVID-19, the unequal distribution of vaccines is a fact. Since October, the World Trade Organization (WTO - WTO) has discussed a proposal initiated by India and South Africa to waive obligations on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights or the TRIPS agreement to make COVID-19 technologies , including vaccines, quickly accessible to the whole world. During the TRIPS council meeting on February 4, developed countries continued to oppose the movement on the proposal.
Only ten countries account for 95% of the 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally. The World Health Organization argues that at least 70% of the world's population needs to be vaccinated to stop the pandemic.
High-income countries with only 16% of the world population have booked 60% of the available doses by entering into trade agreements with producers. The share of vaccines purchased by low-middle-income countries is only about 6% and that of low-income countries is about 4%. If the current trend continues, poor nations can only get mass vaccination by 2024.
COVAX, the WHO's global vaccine program to ensure fair distribution, is struggling to deliver on its promise to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021. COVAX aims to provide low-income countries with enough doses to vaccinate by 2021. % of their populations at no cost.
As a result, the African Union entered into a bilateral contract with vaccine manufacturers to guarantee 270 million doses. When countries enter into bilateral agreements, they may be subject to tiered pricing. South Africa had to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at $ 5.25 per dose, almost 2.5 times what Astra-Zeneca has charged most European countries.
However, the obligations under the TRIPS Agreement hinder.
On October 2, 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization to waive certain TRIPS obligations for the prevention, treatment and containment of COVID-19. Bolivia, Eswatini, Kenya, Mozambique, Mongolia, Pakistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe co-sponsored the proposal.
A majority of WTO member countries also supported it, as did global civil society organizations, scholars and international organizations such as UNAIDS and UNITAID. On 3 February, 14 EU parliamentarians wrote a letter asking the EU to support the waiver proposal. They also called for the EU to issue compulsory licenses to facilitate increased production of COVID-19 vaccines.
As expected, developed countries, notably the United States, the EU, Japan, Canada and Switzerland, opposed the adoption of the proposal and continued to slow progress on the waiver proposal on February 4, despite the appeal of all co-sponsors and the African group for negotiations. What will happen from now until the WTO General Council meeting on March 1-2 will be illuminating as to whether developed countries rank the lives of people in developing countries above the profits of pharmaceutical companies.
Even in Italy, including Italian TV, the problem is passed over in silence: read here.