Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of Interest; WTO DG To Take Compromise Text on TRIPS Waiver to the Wider Membership

Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of InterestAn impressive range of stakeholders made their interests and concerns known at the public hearings this week conducted by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body set up to establish a new pandemic agreement. From feisty civil society activists to hard-as-knuckles lobbyists; from social justice champions to focused medical products manufacturers; from professors at American universities to healthcare workers; from representatives of the families of the deceased to wildlife experts; from anesthesiologists to anthropologists; from human rights scholars to teachers’ unions. These disparate group made forceful, incisive statements on what the pandemic meant to … Continue reading Public Hearings on a Pandemic Agreement Open Floodgates of Interest; WTO DG To Take Compromise Text on TRIPS Waiver to the Wider Membership

Countries Find Chaos in Parallel Tracks on Drawing Up New Rules for Health Emergencies, Many Unprepared

It was never going to be easy. As countries get deeper into the processes for defining new rules for future health emergencies, many delegations in Geneva and in the capitals, are finding it difficult to keep up with multiple consultations, formal, informal and across different forums. “It is chaotic and disorganized”, one Geneva-based health diplomat told us this week. While this is just the beginning of long drawn negotiations, churn and disagreements are to be expected. But it is clear that the processes that guide these negotiations, will undoubtedly determine outcomes. Most immediately, that there are two competing priorities. One … Continue reading Countries Find Chaos in Parallel Tracks on Drawing Up New Rules for Health Emergencies, Many Unprepared

Curb Private Sector Participation In The Treaty-Making Process: Some Member States At WHO

[Update from the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body] In a significant move, some member states at WHO have expressed caution and have sought to limit the participation of the private sector in the negotiations for new rules on pandemic preparedness and response. Last week, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) met at the resumed session of its first meeting on March 14-15. The INB was set up earlier this year, to work towards a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, following the Special Session of the World Health Assembly in November 2021. These efforts to limit … Continue reading Curb Private Sector Participation In The Treaty-Making Process: Some Member States At WHO

The Lowest Common Denominator: The Quad Text on the TRIPS Waiver

A developing country ambassador told us a few months ago that the best outcome on the waiver proposal would be to persuade the Americans and Europeans to have a solution that would include all kinds of medical products not just vaccines, and waiving all kinds of IP  protections not just patents, underlining the positions of these key WTO members respectively. Now, as a potential for a compromise is beginning to emerge, it seems that the proponents of the waiver might have lost out on both accounts. While scholars and access to medicine advocates have already panned the compromise text, these … Continue reading The Lowest Common Denominator: The Quad Text on the TRIPS Waiver

A compromise on the horizon? TRIPS Waiver talks in the ‘Quad’ at the WTO

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended trade diplomacy at the WTO in recent days, the TRIPS waiver discussions have proceeded among a small group of members and is likely nearing a compromise, although differences persist. Sources familiar with the process told us that technical deliberations among the quad that includes the US, the EU, India and South Africa, are now nearing completion. These discussions are soon expected to follow at the level of the ministers of these four WTO members. “If the current text is acceptable by high-level decision-makers, it will then be taken up by the wider … Continue reading A compromise on the horizon? TRIPS Waiver talks in the ‘Quad’ at the WTO

Sticky post

EXCLUSIVE: Efforts to limit the implementation of the TRIPS Waiver, proposals to exclude India & China

A small group of WTO members deliberating on the TRIPS Waiver, are discussing suggestions to limit the geographical scope of the implementation of the waiver – plans that seek to exclude India and China, sources familiar with the process say. These discussions among the US, the EU, South Africa and India, are still fluid and are likely subject to other diplomatic considerations outside of the waiver. India has been a lead co-sponsor of the TRIPS waiver proposal along with South Africa since October 2020. While it appears that India will likely not accept such a proposal, and yet, it is … Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: Efforts to limit the implementation of the TRIPS Waiver, proposals to exclude India & China

The politics of surplus production & vaccine scarcity

A SNAPSHOT OF VACCINE INEQUITY: SURPLUS IN TIMES OF SCARCITY    When a source alerted us to a potential glut in vaccine production at the end of 2021, back in January this year, it was hard to believe it. At that time the glaring inequities in the access to medical products, was already making global headlines. That COVID-19 vaccines production could touch 12 billion doses in a few months is as hard to believe today, even though the numbers look increasingly convincing. For all the advances in predictive analyses, streamlined logistics, we will still not be able to get vaccine doses from countries that … Continue reading The politics of surplus production & vaccine scarcity

“The idea of pathogen sharing is based on power dynamics”: Q&A with Senjuti Saha

THE GENEVA HEALTH FILES INTERVIEW By Divya Venkatesh “The idea of pathogen sharing is based on power dynamics” During an outbreak, accessing pathogen samples and sequencing data easily are critical for designing effective public health responses and developing medical products. The norms that govern the sharing of pathogens in “peace” times, will have consequences on how samples and information are shared and compensated for, during outbreaks. Despite the growing chorus for sharing pathogens, this fundamental requirement that has not been discussed enough. We spoke with Senjuti Saha, a well-known Bangladeshi scientist who works at the intersection of Clinical Microbiology and Public … Continue reading “The idea of pathogen sharing is based on power dynamics”: Q&A with Senjuti Saha

Threats of sanctions from Berlin ahead of talks in Geneva might alter support for pandemic treaty

From a glittering ceremony in Berlin this week, that saw the launch of the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, WHO top boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, flanked by German Health Minister Jens Spahn, made unequivocal calls for sanctions for uncooperative states in the context of future health emergencies. Germany, WHO’s biggest funder, repeatedly asked China to cooperate on the investigations on the origins of SARS-CoV-2. These first shots for sanctions rang out just as the intergovernmental Working Group on Strengthening WHO preparedness for and Response to Health Emergencies (WGPR) resumed discussions in Geneva this week (September 1-3). We have noted earlier how the origins debate has … Continue reading Threats of sanctions from Berlin ahead of talks in Geneva might alter support for pandemic treaty

Where does India truly stand on the TRIPS Waiver: Q&A with Murali Neelakantan

India has played a crucial role in supporting South Africa, as a lead co-sponsor in bringing the TRIPS Waiver proposal to the WTO in October 2020. In the months since, more than 60 other WTO members have formally supported the proposal – a bold initiative that seeks to temporarily suspend a range of intellectual property protections in order to decisively respond to the pandemic by seeking to unblock production shortages for critical COVID-19 medical products. As these discussions reach a critical juncture ahead of the WTO ministerial in November this year, concerns have been expressed on India’s commitment to the waiver proposal. … Continue reading Where does India truly stand on the TRIPS Waiver: Q&A with Murali Neelakantan