Rich nations have rejected a World Trade Organisation (WTO) proposal to waive the intellectual property rights needed for the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver would have made the vaccine access cheaper for developing nations.
This was disclosed in a report by Reuters on Friday, after an exclusive with WTO insiders. The European Union and the United States were reported to have opposed the waiver before the WTO’s General Council meeting in December.
Reuters disclosed that member nations support the waiver because it reduces barriers on access to affordable vaccines, citing the AIDS epidemic where waivers were also dropped.
“If rich countries prefer profits to life, they will kill it by tying it down in technicalities,” a delegate told Reuters.
Another WTO insider said that refusal to accede to a waiver would “also undermine the collaborative efforts to fight the pandemic that are already underway.”
The support for the waiver was initially raised by India and South Africa, with China joining the bid for a waiver, despite having vaccines under development.
What you should know
The race for a vaccine is heating up as 2 companies, Pfizer and Moderna Inc, recently released promising data on their vaccines.
Nairametrics reported last week that Pfizer Inc had announced that its experimental vaccine, which it jointly developed with BioNTech, was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study, in the ongoing phase 3 trials.
Pharmaceutical company, Moderna Inc, also announced that its Covid-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in treating coronavirus, after preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial.
The European Union finalized a deal to buy up to 300 million doses of the ground-breaking coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, and the UK Government also expressed interest in Moderna Inc’s vaccine whose tests have shown to be 94.5 effective in combating the coronavirus.
What this means
The refusal by Covid-19 vaccine developers could also mean bad news for Nigeria, as the country would have to wait for a global collaborated effort to get its hands on a drug.
When Pfizer’s vaccine was initially announced, President Buhari described the development as a major milestone in medical advancement but warned that the world must unite in facilitating the equitable access and distribution of the vaccines to protect people in all countries.