At Risk: COVAX Plans to Vaccinate 20% of the People in LMICs

The challenges for the world’s most vulnerable in accessing vaccine doses to protect themselves from a devastating pandemic gets more acute every week. Only 0.3% of the vaccine supply is going to low-income countries. COVAX has so far delivered 65 million doses to 124 countries. The surge in cases has compromised global vaccine supply and there is already a shortfall of 190 million doses to COVAX by the end of June, WHO has said. UNICEF was more direct in encapsulating the failure of the international mechanism: “The COVAX Facility will deliver its 65 millionth vaccine dose this week. It should’ve been at least its … Continue reading At Risk: COVAX Plans to Vaccinate 20% of the People in LMICs

Tied Funds To WHO, But Flexible Funds To Its Partners: Sustainable Financing Working Group Confronts Challenges

WHO partners have long eclipsed the UN’s only technical agency – they are better funded and increasingly have exercised greater power and influence on global health in Geneva and in countries around the world. As WHO’s working group on sustainable financing gets down to work, it is bringing to light the extent to which its financing is tied – this includes even those funds coming from partner agencies. The inter-governmental working group on sustainable financing met late last month (April 29-30) for its second meeting and set off discussions on the potential ways to prioritize essential functions of the WHO given the … Continue reading Tied Funds To WHO, But Flexible Funds To Its Partners: Sustainable Financing Working Group Confronts Challenges

The WTO Becomes the Nerve Center for Pandemic Response

In the late evening of the 5th May, here in Geneva, the international trade community was jolted from its end-of-the-day fatigue with the news of the US support to the waiver of intellectual property protection for COVID-19 vaccines. While the news was cheered among the global health community that has long faced the specter of vaccine shortages and rising deaths from COVID-19, it perplexed the trade lawyers. After all, in one stroke, the US had upended its long-entrenched position on the primacy of the protection of intellectual property, in the 25 plus years of the existence of the TRIPS Agreement. Irrespective … Continue reading The WTO Becomes the Nerve Center for Pandemic Response

Variants of Concern & Variants of Interest: SARS-CoV-2

The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617 present in India and other countries has been designated as a variant of concern despite the on-going surge of infections and mortality in India. We wanted to understand why this wasn’t a variant of concern yet. Is this due to an alleged lack of sufficient information collection and sharing of important data in India. This variant was first detected in October 2020.ticular variant.  Image credit: Photo by Jeswin Thomas from Pexels Continues… To read the full story, you will need to sign up to our newsletter.   While our edition on Tuesdays, The Weekly Primer is free, our exclusive analyses published in The Friday Deep … Continue reading Variants of Concern & Variants of Interest: SARS-CoV-2

Countries divided on ways to reform WHO emergency preparedness

WHAT THIS TELLS US ABOUT THE PANDEMIC TREATY DISCUSSIONS Some would argue that we are in the run up to one of the most crucial discussions on how the world must prepare for the next health emergency, even as the current pandemic continues to light up waves of infections and deaths in countries like India and Brazil, among many others. Apart from the status of the negotiations itself, this story also looks at the underlying process in these negotiations and how this can impact the discussions towards the pandemic treaty. We reported earlier that the draft resolution on strengthening WHO … Continue reading Countries divided on ways to reform WHO emergency preparedness

COVAX counts on dose-sharing to counter vaccine crunch, vaccine diplomacy makes it worse

DOSE-SHARING: THE PLAN B FOR COVAX THAT RESTS ON BENEVOLENCE In December 2020, Gavi spelt out the COVAX principles on dose-sharing for COVID-19 vaccines. Authorities had hoped that countries who had bought more doses than they require would be amenable to sharing the doses through the COVAX Facility. This was, what now seems like a far less challenging time, before the emergence of the variants, subsequent waves of the pandemic, vaccine shortages, export bans and legal threats between countries and manufacturers. Not only has the situation exacerbated, unforeseen supply challenges have emerged for the COVAX facility in the context of the resurgence … Continue reading COVAX counts on dose-sharing to counter vaccine crunch, vaccine diplomacy makes it worse

“A hole in the firewall”: The WHO Foundation & WHO

The governance of global health has changed in radical ways just in the last 12 months. But potentially lasting changes, some would argue long predicted, are defining new ways of financing which may alter the governance in ways that directly run counter to the very goals of public health. These have been normalized and adopted without adequate consultation of member states of WHO, and despite concerns raised by stakeholders in the civil society. The new WHO Foundation, a non-profit legal entity that has been established to fundraise for WHO might have already caused conflicts of interest arising over recent donations … Continue reading “A hole in the firewall”: The WHO Foundation & WHO

Hyo Yoon Kang on the financialization of intellectual property & COVID-19

At Geneva Health Files, we make a concerted effort to use inter-disciplinary reporting approaches given the very nature of global health which straddles so many disciplines. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that we bring you this pertinent interview with intellectual property law expert,  Hyo Yoon Kang, a reader in law at Kent Law School, University of Kent. Kang, who has cross-disciplinary training, has worked at the intersection of law, history of sciences, and science and technology studies. In this enlightening interview she examines the embedded politics in the very foundations of intellectual property law and picks apart the arguments … Continue reading Hyo Yoon Kang on the financialization of intellectual property & COVID-19

WHO & WTO converge on bilateral tech transfer for vaccines. What this means for the TRIPS Waiver

The WTO vaccine equity event showed potential for spare manufacturing capacity and the willingness to finance it. But will this be followed up voluntary technology transfer to address production shortages, or will this be left to the discretion of bilateral deals decided by manufacturers? And was this event meant to draw attention away from the TRIPS waiver talks now reaching a critical stage? There are emerging convergences between the WTO and WHO, on the approaches towards bilateral technology transfer to spur the production of vaccines. This will inevitably have repercussions for the TRIPS waiver proposal. While it is not clear … Continue reading WHO & WTO converge on bilateral tech transfer for vaccines. What this means for the TRIPS Waiver

Make way for the COVAX Manufacturing Taskforce

While the COVAX Facility reached a milestone of making vaccine doses available (38 million) in more than 100 “economies”, as a press statement articulated last week, the questions on its effectiveness and limitations continue to get louder. At the Africa’s Vaccine Manufacturing Virtual Conference, organized by Africa CDC, Andrew Witty, ex-CEO of GSK, and a former special envoy of the ACT Accelerator acknowledged the limitations of the COVAX Facility. To be sure, the uncertainties facing supplies of vaccines have been confirmed at the highest levels. Last week, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance said that while efforts will made to make … Continue reading Make way for the COVAX Manufacturing Taskforce