The ACT-A Agenda: The financialization of a pandemic?

Bonds, loans, debt-swaps and taxes The ACT A plan to ride out the pandemic The European Commission-backed ACT Accelerator [ACT A] which has the private sector at the table, has drawn up extensive plans to address the acute scarcity of resources to fund the response to pandemic. Measures include issuing social bonds, grants, a sovereign insurance pool, and even includes the consideration of a “global transaction tax”. These plans were first made public at a meeting of the ACT Accelerator Facilitation Council  earlier this week. The ACT A needs more than US$27 billion to effectively address the pandemic globally. This is a … Continue reading The ACT-A Agenda: The financialization of a pandemic?

Sticky post

The Politics of Pathogens-Sharing

As much of the world awaits vaccines for COVID-19, discussions on how pathogens should be shared continue to evolve at World Health Organization. This is fundamental for the access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics during a disease outbreak, and for preparedness. Like its ubiquitous impact on almost every aspect of health policy, COVID-19 will inevitably change the discourse on the sharing of pathogens. Stakeholders hope that the change will be for the better, including by addressing the crucial matter on benefits for those sharing pathogens and biological materials.   This initial story looks at the state of play in these … Continue reading The Politics of Pathogens-Sharing

Sticky post

Moment in the sun for TRIPS Waiver plan

ROAD AHEAD FOR GREATER DELIBERATION IN 2021: TRIPS WAIVER PROPOSAL AT WTO The General Council at WTO, the organization’s highest level decision-making body, this week, discussed the TRIPS waiver proposal first put forward by South Africa and India in October this year. With this, the proponents successfully pushed this crucial proposal for political consideration before the world’s trade policy makers. The stage is now set for further deliberation in the coming weeks early in 2021. South Africa has also requested for an extraordinary General Council meeting to take this forward. The significance of the discussion of this proposal at the General Council, … Continue reading Moment in the sun for TRIPS Waiver plan


An informal meeting was convened at the TRIPS Council today (December 3) to discuss the TRIPS waiver proposal. Discussions on the TRIPS waiver proposal is expected to continue in the TRIPS Council in 2021. We will come back with a fuller report on this next week, here are some details which emerged from today’s meeting. It is understood that the African Group may decide to co-sponsor the proposal after consultations with the capitals. Kenya, Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Argentina are understood to have expressed their support to the waiver proposal at the informal meeting today. South Africa and India have … Continue reading TRIPS COUNCIL INFORMAL MEETING ON TRIPS WAIVER PROPOSAL

Regulatory discoherence: The case of remdesivir

THE NEED FOR REGULATORY COHERENCE: LESSONS FROM REMDESIVIR The story of Gilead’s drug remdesivir, one of the earliest candidates of repurposed medicines that showed promise for the treatment of COVID-19, should hopefully have lessons for regulatory authorities the world over. In reporting this story with my colleagues in the cross-border investigations team working on this project, we spoke to a number of experts from different parts of the world, in trying to understand how regulatory processes work. And what approvals from regulatory authorities mean for governments, for clinicians, for people and for companies. Image credit: Photo by Thirdman from Pexels Continues… To read … Continue reading Regulatory discoherence: The case of remdesivir

“Solidarity is not fairness”

The World Health Assembly draws all member states of World Health Organization to discuss health challenges, review actions, debate proposals and set future goals. It entrusts the secretariat to consult and engage with countries and other actors to coordinate vast areas of global health policy. This complex mechanism, some say, is now under threat. In this story, we will see why process matters and how it eventually impacts member states participation during the worst health emergency in a century. In addition, concomitant developments this week, dominated global health agenda. This crowded out the Assembly. Events that unfolded outside of the … Continue reading “Solidarity is not fairness”

Philosophers seek to make space in pandemic response

Sridhar Venkatapuram, is an Associate Professor at the Global Health Institute, King’s College London. He has spearheaded the Independent Resource Group for Global Health Justice (IRG-GHJ “URGE”), along with other philosophers and experts to address the some of the biggest questions of the times we are now living in. You can also watch this recent event where these experts lucidly explain what they intend to do in getting organizations to discuss complex global justice matters and the ethical issues that this pandemic has thrown up. He spoke to Geneva Health Files at length on how issues around allocation and distribution of medical products, for … Continue reading Philosophers seek to make space in pandemic response

WHO PQ listing for Remdesivir

A SHORT BLOG: Questions are beginning to emerge as to why WHO proceeded to give a prequalification listing to Remdesivir, when it was aware of the results of its Solidarity Therapeutics trial on the drug’s lack of impact on the treatment for COVID-19. At the bi-weekly presser (on 16.10) last week, WHO’s top officials discussed briefly the independent processes of the prequalification process for Remdesivir (officially announced on the 15th) and the results of the Solidarity trial (highlighted on the 16th.)(See Soumya Swaminathan and Mariangela Simão address this question, half way into the briefing) It is also understood that the results from the Solidarity trial … Continue reading WHO PQ listing for Remdesivir

Reading the AstraZeneca-Oxford Trial. What’s at stake?

Given the scientific, economic, political, commercial and moral compulsions around vaccines for the pandemic, the adverse event in a clinical trial of a leading vaccine candidate has been a humbling moment for citizens, governments, companies and hopefully, politicians. The goal of this expert interview is to help us read the recent pause in a leading clinical trial (AZD1222) following a suspected adverse event and the subsequent news of the resumption of the trial in the UK. A lot has been published already on this trial, already in phase III, but a few aspects worth underscoring. First, that Pascal Soriot, CEO of … Continue reading Reading the AstraZeneca-Oxford Trial. What’s at stake?

Public health & tobacco plain packaging: Q&A with Benn McGrady, WHO

Q&A with Benn McGrady, Technical Officer (Legal), Public Health Law and Policies, Health Promotion (HPR) at World Health Organization. Geneva Health Files reached out to Benn McGrady, a health law expert. He speaks about what the recent WTO Appellate Body ruling on tobacco plain packaging, means for public health. McGrady an expert on the matter, is the author of the book Trade and Public Health: The WTO, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Diet , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. The following are his responses to queries sent on email. 1. The significance of the ruling for public health and non-communicable diseases in … Continue reading Public health & tobacco plain packaging: Q&A with Benn McGrady, WHO