Vaccines falling through the cracks in the regulatory mosaic

The ongoing goof-up around European Union’s prized vaccine certificates which do not recognize some WHO-approved vaccines, has brought back to life memories on governmental dysfunctions. Having spent a substantial part of my life in India, I am long used to bureaucratic delays, inexplicable and convoluted ways in which red tape eats into productive hours. It is a fact of life. Indians mostly account for unanticipated surprises from unimaginative public servants who put the letter of the law above the spirit of it, and are often, averse to common sense. Watching vaccine barriers go up in the EU, on the back … Continue reading Vaccines falling through the cracks in the regulatory mosaic

The clock is ticking on securing WHO’s finances

Financing WHO: How much must countries pay & what are essential functions An update from the Sustainable Financing Working Group Meeting Discussions among countries on ways to fund WHO in a predictable manner are reaching an important phase with an emerging view that member states must pay more to protect the role of WHO in global health. So while many countries may, in principle be ready to cough up more, it is far from clear by how much and by when would they agree to do so. Countries also appear undecided on the ways to prioritize essential functions of WHO, … Continue reading The clock is ticking on securing WHO’s finances

A Moment of Reckoning for the COVAX Facility

Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance, that legally administers the COVAX Facility, has had to do some serious stock-taking in rethinking its role in the international response to COVID-19. This week the Gavi Board approved proposals, among others, to redefine the way the COVAX Facility engages with Self-Financing Countries and the way it plans to service low- and middle-income countries in the future. It is also an acknowledgement of the limitations faced by the structure that has been set up and constrained by the donors of the COVAX Facility. According to Gavi, over 80 million doses from COVAX have been delivered to 129 … Continue reading A Moment of Reckoning for the COVAX Facility

South Africa bags first mRNA tech transfer hub

For a world clutching at the straws, there is palpable excitement about a first tech transfer hub to produce mRNA vaccines in Africa. The statement from WHO on the South African consortium that has bagged the first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, is scant on the details particularly on licensing terms. It is not clear whether for instance, such a hub, would work with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. (See our earlier story on this). Neither the press release nor the statement of DG Tedros has any mention of C-TAP. In April, WHO issued a call for expressions of interest to establish technology transfer … Continue reading South Africa bags first mRNA tech transfer hub

Essay: The Economics of Health For All

While COVID-19 demands a reset of capitalism, nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, we are still tinkering at the edges of what is truly possible. Despite the usual skepticism, the house view is that The WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All (set up in November 2020), will contribute to changing the conversation on health and economics, in global health and beyond. We agree that global health is too important to be left only to disciplinary experts, and there needs to be a fundamental rethink on our priorities to bring health front and center of economies. Today … Continue reading Essay: The Economics of Health For All

The demand for vaccine indemnity from countries & the terms of COVAX

Vaccine Indemnity and The COVAX Facility Some manufacturers have demanded indemnity against the introduction of vaccines, from countries. We wanted to know how this ties in with The COVAX Facility’s no-fault compensation fund. Here are some responses from a spokesperson from Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance. (See our earlier story on these issues) [GHF] 1. Why did Facility leave the question of indemnity to individual countries participating in the Facility? The foundational goal of COVAX is global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, which includes working to ensure that ability to pay is not a barrier to access. As we strive towards this goal at … Continue reading The demand for vaccine indemnity from countries & the terms of COVAX

WHA74 WRAP: Pandemic Treaty Talks Eclipse Prevailing Vaccine Inequities

More than half way into the 74th World Health Assembly, a serious discussion on the efforts to address vaccine inequities have been conspicuous by its absence. What has instead dominated much of the Assembly proceedings are talks for a pandemic treaty to address health emergencies in the future, and the important, but continuing push towards investigations on the origins of the virus, among other matters. When this story went to print, the decision on the pandemic treaty was yet to be approved. The decision is expected to be approved at this Assembly. (See our story on this from earlier this week.) To be … Continue reading WHA74 WRAP: Pandemic Treaty Talks Eclipse Prevailing Vaccine Inequities

Pandemic Treaty Opponents Have Bought Time Till a Special Session of WHA in Nov, Supporters Manage to Keep Pressure On

Pandemic Treaty Talks: Special Session in November to Assess The Need for International Instrument Opponents to the Pandemic Treaty talks have made early gains on deferring commitments to launch negotiations immediately. After several rounds of wrangling on the decision-text into early hours of Saturday last week, WHO member states have now reached consensus. It is now proposed that the discussions for “an international instrument” will formally be addressed at a special session of the World Health Assembly in November 2021, where countries will decide on the need to establish an inter-governmental process to draft and negotiate a potential treaty (or other international … Continue reading Pandemic Treaty Opponents Have Bought Time Till a Special Session of WHA in Nov, Supporters Manage to Keep Pressure On

Spanner in the works for a pandemic treaty: The U.S., Brazil & Russia Converge to Oppose EU plans at WHO, Discussions Continue

EU-led plans for pushing through with the setting up of an inter-governmental body to undertake negotiations for a pandemic treaty have been soured by unwillingness on the part of a few member states of WHO including US, Mexico, Brazil and Russia, among others, according to diplomatic sources in Geneva. As this story went to print, countries were locked in consultations on a decision text which if approved by the World Health Assembly would kick start the process for negotiations towards a treaty. It is not clear whether countries were likely to reach a consensus on these discussions before the start … Continue reading Spanner in the works for a pandemic treaty: The U.S., Brazil & Russia Converge to Oppose EU plans at WHO, Discussions Continue

“The Independent Panel did not meet the moment”: Guest Essay – A critique of The Independent Panel Report

An Independent Panel for COVID-19 recovery The Independent Panel tasked by WHO with reviewing the global management of the COVID-19 pandemic has fulfilled its terms of reference. But despite the best efforts of the panelists, it did not meet the moment. The world might still need an Independent Panel — but one that is transparent, accountable and participatory. This Independent Panel report does summarize many of the issues the world has witnessed in the past 14 months: weak pandemic preparedness, lugubrious bureaucracies, and government passivity. It poetically describes global inequalities, including the stark sacrifices of healthcare workers. However, its narrow recommendations sidestep … Continue reading “The Independent Panel did not meet the moment”: Guest Essay – A critique of The Independent Panel Report