WHO’s “Bretton Woods Moment” Dimmed by Member States’ Reluctance To Pay Up More

Notes from the Sustainable Financing Working Group Meeting In its first meeting during March 29-31, the intergovernmental Sustainable Financing Working Group at WHO, kick-started discussions on finding ways to fund essential functions in a flexible and predictable manner. It has also emerged that sustainable financing is a key objective of the proposed international pandemic treaty. Hence the deliberations of this working group will be crucial in setting the direction on financing and as a consequence, governance. In the early stages of this discussions, member states appear reluctant to pay up more in assessed contributions.    WHO’s Sustainable Financing Working Group … Continue reading WHO’s “Bretton Woods Moment” Dimmed by Member States’ Reluctance To Pay Up More

The cautionary tale of the COVAX Facility

With every passing month, the unanticipated challenges facing the COVAX Facility mounts. Take the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been reckoned as the backbone of the Facility. Rising hesitancy towards this vaccine in the EU and elsewhere because of rare incidents of blood clots, despite the safety of the vaccine vouched by regulators, is only one concern. Following production shortages in the EU that broke out earlier in the year, the barriers to access AZ doses continue – the latest being on account of Indian government’s decision to temporarily hold the export of the vaccine to quell the surge of COVID-19 infections in the country. A press release issued by … Continue reading The cautionary tale of the COVAX Facility

Pathogens-Sharing & The Pandemic Treaty: The Commercial Link

The rules on how information on pathogens and genetic sequences will be shared could be determined under a proposed pandemic treaty. This is important because even though countries may share physical samples of pathogens and genetic sequence data, they could be excluded from having access to vaccines and diagnostics developed based on this information without binding commitments on benefits sharing. COVID-19 shows us, this has happened. Leaders from more than 25 different countries have rallied behind the idea of a pandemic treaty, and want a new instrument to be negotiated under the Constitution of the World Health Organization. They hope that the … Continue reading Pathogens-Sharing & The Pandemic Treaty: The Commercial Link

What is driving the discussions for a pandemic treaty?

The idea of a pandemic treaty is germinating from the tending of political actors, internal and external drivers at World Health Organization and by diverse custodians of knowledge and influence. The need for a pandemic treaty is firmly rooted in the context of global health security that has effectively displaced every other narrative as a result of COVID-19. Global health security has been defined as “measures that are required to reduce the risk and impact of health events that endanger populations around the world.” The current situation raises many fundamental questions on whether our global health institutions – a legacy of the … Continue reading What is driving the discussions for a pandemic treaty?

WHO donors seek a new tech transfer hub under ACT-A, C-TAP sidelined

A new technology transfer hub to facilitate bilateral licensing arrangements, is being proposed by France and powerful private groups, to be under established in the ACT Accelerator, away from the C-TAP. For a world grappling with acute shortages of vaccines – the panacea to fight the pandemic and to restore the economy – technology transfer has come to emerge as a key to unlock idle manufacturing capacities which can be repurposed to churn out vaccines for an endless global queue of susceptible populations under the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. One year into the pandemic and more than 2.6 … Continue reading WHO donors seek a new tech transfer hub under ACT-A, C-TAP sidelined

Could Vaccine Nationalism Spur Disputes At The WTO?

Experts believe that the solution to vaccine nationalism is not filing disputes, but negotiations. But lawyers anticipate disputes even if filed simply for political leverage. Vaccine nationalism, a condition that has flourished during COVID-19, is loosely understood as the tendency of countries to hoard vaccines. But protectionist trade practices of hoarding medical supplies began as soon as the pandemic hit. This is now taking a serious turn with export restriction measures adopted by some countries. This could lead to a real possibility of countries taking the legal route to file disputes at the WTO, even if only for political leverage, experts say. … Continue reading Could Vaccine Nationalism Spur Disputes At The WTO?

The COVAX Allocation Algorithm for Vaccine Distribution

The logic underpinning the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines secured by The COVAX Facility The COVAX Facility is using an allocation algorithm to distribute COVID-19 vaccines globally. The underlying logic determines how countries line up to receive vaccines in a period of acute scarcity when less than 250 million vaccine doses expected to be distributed among more than 7 billion people worldwide in the first half of 2021 through the Facility. COVAX published its first round of allocations earlier this week that seeks to deliver 237 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to 142 countries. According to WHO’s allocation mechanism, the first phase will … Continue reading The COVAX Allocation Algorithm for Vaccine Distribution

What is holding back the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP)

Production concerns in the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines have underscored the need for technology transfer. This means greater relevance for the C-TAP, however it continues to lack support. The shortages of COVID-19 vaccines have brought into focus the importance of technology transfer needed to speed up the production of vaccines to meet unmet demand. This may give a much-needed impetus to WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, which was first suggested by Costa Rica in March 2020, subsequently launched in May 2020 by WHO, but an initiative that has failed to take off. So far. A number of factors have ensured … Continue reading What is holding back the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP)

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?

Reading the COVAX forecast

Even as Geneva-based health organizations announced forecasts for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, countries in some parts of the world fear that their promised deliveries for vaccines were now being reprioritized by some manufacturers affiliated with the COVAX Facility. There is not enough clarity yet on how many countries will be affected in the short term. This story parses through the official statements made by health agencies and contrasts it with publicly available information which suggest that bilateral deals between vaccines manufacturers and countries have begun to have an impact on vaccine deliveries for the COVAX facility as many had … Continue reading Reading the COVAX forecast