Podcast: The Story Of The TRIPS Waiver

Dear Readers, Listeners, I am happy to bring you our next episode of the Geneva Health Files podcast, encouraged by the response to our first earlier in the year. In this episode we take you on the journey of the TRIPS waiver, how it began and the way it has captured public imagination. While uncertainty swirls around what will happen next in the story of the waiver, let’s seize the moment to review and recap in broad brushstrokes, the journey so far and what this means for the world. This podcast has been made possible when a reader, a trained radio journalist, … Continue reading Podcast: The Story Of The TRIPS Waiver

At WTO, Some Developing Countries: “No Waiver – No Walker”; Destination undecided, but countries divided over legal route for new WHO instrument

With just days left for the 12th WTO ministerial, members are yet to reach a decision on the TRIPS waiver – one of the most important deliverables for this meeting. While the waiver decision may hold the key to the success or failure of this event, it is emerging as a key bargaining chip for developing countries in trying to steer the overall outcomes from this ministerial, according to trade diplomats. There was already pressure building on the opponents to the waiver as hours towards the ministerial get smaller. In a dramatic turn of events, the rise of a new variant detected … Continue reading At WTO, Some Developing Countries: “No Waiver – No Walker”; Destination undecided, but countries divided over legal route for new WHO instrument

Round One to the EU & Friends: “Treaty” Option Gains Support

WHO member states have agreed to explore further the need for new rules, even as they would consider strengthening existing rules. The Working Group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies met this week to agree on a draft report that will be submitted to the Special Session of the World Health Assembly later this month. These discussions are one of the most contentious policy choices for countries battling the pandemic, and under pressure to be seen as responding to a political process. After four days of intense discussions where countries negotiated to draft text for this report, it appears … Continue reading Round One to the EU & Friends: “Treaty” Option Gains Support

Pathogen-Sharing and the Access to Benefits: Theory And Practice

By Divya Venkatesh In a pandemic, the sharing of pathogen samples – and associated data such as genetic sequences and epidemiological information are critical for effective public health response – both globally and locally. This is particularly important for the development of medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and diagnostics. And as this pandemic has shown, the sharing of these medical countermeasures across the world is as important to fight the spread of disease. Nominally, the sharing of pathogen samples is governed by the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), specifically through its supplementary agreement – the Nagoya Protocol which came into effect in … Continue reading Pathogen-Sharing and the Access to Benefits: Theory And Practice

“Equity” Expands in Pandemic Treaty Discussions at WHO

WHO member states continue to engage and wrestle with the question on whether the world needs a new legal instrument to address future emergencies. Considerations on equity are fast-assuming center-space in these discussions. However, it is too early to say whether and to what extent will equity be addressed meaningfully in future governance of health emergencies. Under the Working group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies (WGPR), member states had several consultations this week. In two inter-sessional meetings this week, the working group had discussions in a “deep dive” format on “equity and medical countermeasures and sample sharing … Continue reading “Equity” Expands in Pandemic Treaty Discussions at WHO

A Replenishment Model for WHO

Faced with inadequate and uncertain support for a meaningful increase in assessed contributions from WHO member states, the Sustainable Financing Working Group has been left to contend with what seems to be an inevitable dependence on the replenishment model to shore up finances for the organization. Without enough resources from its member states, WHO may be forced to depend on donor funds to meet its mandate, sources familiar with the discussions say. In its fourth meeting this year, the working group met this week to review essential functions of WHO and the ways to fund these in a sustainable manner. … Continue reading A Replenishment Model for WHO

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To improve access to vaccines, Gavi will ask countries to resell to COVAX

The board of Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance will meet next week on the 28th of September to consider key strategic issues around the COVAX Facility including enabling reselling of vaccine doses by countries, and preparing for a potential administration of booster doses by participating countries. In June, we reported on Gavi Board’s approval on the way the COVAX Facility engages with Self-Financing Countries and the plans to service low- and middle-income countries. The new goal of covering 70% of the global population is significant for Gavi, that will also soon review the operations for the COVAX Facility going forward. … Continue reading To improve access to vaccines, Gavi will ask countries to resell to COVAX

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A Meeting Among the Friends of the Pandemic Treaty

A meeting in Montreux: Friends of the Pandemic Treaty A photograph of a somewhat crumpled sheet of paper read “Retreat of the Group of Friends of the Pandemic Treaty”, Friday September 17, 2021. The image showed potential guiding questions that would discuss the need for a new legal instrument – discussions for which are underway in the Working Group on strengthening WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies. Last week when this information was shared with us, the questions on the agenda were revealing on the direction of these discussions. Early endorsers to the idea of a pandemic treaty are a group … Continue reading A Meeting Among the Friends of the Pandemic Treaty

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