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

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

The U.S. hopes to reshape post-pandemic governance with a “Global Health Threats Fund”

The U.S. government is seeking to play a key role in the establishment of a Global Health Threats Fund, a new proposed structure envisaged to be under the aegis of the World Bank. This could potentially upend parallel discussions on a pandemic treaty and eventually impact WHO’s role to meaningfully address future pandemics, sources familiar with recent discussions say. The Global Health Threats Fund and a Board, were recommendations made by the G20 Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Financing. (Separately, the Independent Panel of Pandemic Preparedness and Response had suggested a Global Health Threats Council.) The U.S. government, reportedly is keen to … Continue reading The U.S. hopes to reshape post-pandemic governance with a “Global Health Threats Fund”

Guest Essay: “Do We Really Need a Pandemic Treaty?”

By Nithin Ramakrishnan and K M Gopakumar The Member-State  Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies (the working group) met during the 15th and 16th of July 2021 and adopted its method of work.  The 74th World Health Assembly (WHA) decision has mandated the Working Group to prioritize the assessment of the benefits of developing a WHO  convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response, and report to the Special Session of the WHA to be held from 29 November to 1st December 2021. The Working Group is expected to start its work on this prioritised … Continue reading Guest Essay: “Do We Really Need a 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

The many promises of the mRNA tech transfer hub in Africa

WHO: New consortium working to boost vaccine production in South Africa: MPP, WHO, AFRIGEN, BIOVAC, SAMRC, and Africa CDC sign a letter of intent towards establishing the tech transfer hub in South Africa “The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and the World Health Organization (WHO),  Afrigen Biologics (PTY) Limited, the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa  (Biovac), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have signed a letter of intent to address the global imbalance of manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines.” The letter of intent sets out the terms of the collaboration and responsibilities between … Continue reading The many promises of the mRNA tech transfer hub in Africa