His government bowed to pressure on Wednesday as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) discussed a proposal by India and South Africa last October to waive patents for vaccines and Covid-19 treatments. No decision has been made, but America’s backing could turn the tide on a WTO decision.
“The Administration strongly believes in intellectual property protections, but in the service of the end of this pandemic, it supports the lifting of these protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” wrote US Trade Representative Katherine Tai in a statement. .
Some experts say that even with patent waivers, much of the developing world does not necessarily have the means to produce vaccines on the scale needed. There is an urgent need to simply share more vaccines from the rich world and transfer the technology to help poorer countries make injections later.
As the United States gets ahead with its immunization schedule – 32% of its population is now fully immunized – many poor countries are struggling to get doses of vaccine for their elderly and most vulnerable by the through purchase agreements or COVAX, a global vaccine sharing initiative. , Writes Laura Smith-Spark.
India, on the other hand, has fully immunized just over 2% of its population, or around 30 million people. It has administered more than 160 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine since mid-January, but doses are now scarce for its nearly 1.4 billion people.
India has become the new epicenter of the pandemic, regularly destroying daily records of infection and death. Clarissa Ward of CNN has witnessed the devastating impact on health care systems in India on the brink of collapse. Relatives are trying to resuscitate loved ones in hospitals where overworked doctors simply can’t give everyone the attention – or oxygen and ventilators – they need.
YOU ASKED. WE HAVE ANSWER.
Q: Will waiving vaccine patents help end the pandemic?
A: Activists and some world leaders say this is the only way to speed up access to Covid-19 vaccines for developing countries at a time when richer countries have bought the lion’s share of the global supply. But some say what is really needed is technology transfer.
“It’s not just a question of intellectual property. It’s also the transfer of know-how,” Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNN. “I don’t think there is clear evidence that a waiver of intellectual property will be the best way for this transfer of technology to occur.”
That’s because patent waivers won’t work the same for vaccines as they do for drugs, Bollyky said. For example, with anti-HIV drugs, manufacturers were more or less able to reverse-ingest them without much help from the original developer, whereas with vaccines, “it’s really a process. organic as much as a product ”.
The deal between AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India is a successful example of such technology transfer, said Bollyky, where the licensing of intellectual property was done on a voluntary basis. “The question is, what can we do to facilitate more agreements like the one between AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India to achieve this transfer,” he said.
Nonetheless, the waiver of intellectual property rights will contribute to a global effort to ensure a sustainable and long-term supply of vaccines, according to the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, who said in march that it should be part of a global program. holistic approach to the fight against the virus. “We have to do everything,” he said.
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WHAT IS IMPORTANT TODAY
Data shows Pfizer and Moderna may work with multiple variants
Vaccine makers are trying to get ahead of new variants. The new mRNA technology used in the Moderna and Pfizer images makes it easier to adapt them to the new variants. Here is what we know.
Pfizer / BioNTech: A study from Qatar found an estimated 89.5% efficacy against the British variant of B.1.1.7 two weeks or more after a second dose, the researchers wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine. It was 75% effective against B.1.351, the variant first identified in South Africa, which is good news, as the first real data showed that some other vaccines did not work against it. More importantly, the vaccine was over 97% effective in preventing serious illness or death, they said.
Moderna: This vaccine enhances the immune response against B.1.351 and the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil, Moderna said in a statement. The genetic material used as the basis of vaccines is made in a laboratory and the sequence is easily changed. Moderna tested booster doses of its current vaccine or a version designed specifically against B.1.351 in 40 people who had been vaccinated six to eight months previously.
Blood tests showed that half of these volunteers had a weak antibody response against the B.1.351 and P.1 variants before receiving the booster. Two weeks after the booster, their antibody levels had increased against the so-called wild-type coronavirus – the most common variant in the world – as well as B.1.351 and P.1, Moderna said in the statement.
Nepal’s cases are multiplying. There is a concern that this may soon reflect India.
Nepal is in the grip of a worrying second wave, with Covid-19 cases skyrocketing, hospitals overwhelmed and the country’s prime minister calling on other countries for help. The rapid spread of the virus has raised fears that Nepal is on the brink of a crisis just as devastating as India’s – if not worse, report Asha Thapa, Julia Hollingsworth and Sophie Joeng.
“What is happening in India right now is a horrific glimpse into the future of Nepal if we cannot contain this latest wave of Covid which is claiming more lives per minute,” said the president of the Red Cross Nepalese, Dr. Netra Prasad Timsina.
Daily infections in Nepal started to increase in mid-April, several weeks after the start of the second wave in India. Today, these cases are increasing at an exponential rate, with a seven-fold increase in cases per 100,000 people in just two weeks. Last weekend, 44% of Covid tests in Nepal came back positive, according to government figures, with more than 8,600 new cases on average reported daily. Of particular concern is how Nepal’s fragile health system will cope, given that it has fewer doctors per capita than India and a lower vaccination rate than its neighbor.
Meanwhile, at least 19 climbers have been evacuated from an expedition to Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh highest peak, after four people tested positive for Covid-19 at base camp. And fears are growing that Covid-19 could complicate the climbing season at Mt. Everest.
Some have predicted a pandemic baby boom. In the United States, it was a baby bust.
Americans are just not in the mood. The birth rate in the country fell significantly in the last quarter of 2020 – by more than 6% – compared to the same period the year before, in the first sign that the pandemic has been more collapsed than boom in the baby manufacturing department.
December 2020 is the first month signs of a baby boom may have emerged, roughly nine months after the lockdowns went into effect. A more detailed breakdown of government birth data also shows that the largest decline in births occurred in December, writes Catherine E. Shoichet.
The data confirms what some experts predicted earlier – that fewer births would slow population growth in the country, already hit by rising deaths and declining immigration.
ON OUR RADAR
- Up to 10,000 air passengers at an airport in Sumatra, Indonesia, may have been tested for Covid-19 with reused nasal swabs in a scam that lasted four months, police said.
- The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the coronavirus variant B.1.617 first detected in India as a “variant of interest.” Here is what it means.
- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called on China to withdraw 1,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine just two days after receiving the vaccine itself. The vaccine is not authorized in the country.
- Hospitals in the Japanese prefecture of Osaka no longer have beds available for patients with severe Covid-19, with bed occupancy rates exceeding capacity on Wednesday.
- New Zealand has suspended non-quarantine travel arrangements for flights from Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales after an outbreak in Sydney.
TODAY’S TOP TIP
Many countries have reported an increase in calls to child abuse helplines as the pandemic has kept children at home for long periods of time.
In the United States, researchers evaluated calls and texts to the national Childhelp child abuse hotline from March to May 2020 and compared them to the same time period in 2019. The team found an increase of 13 , 75% of the total number of requests made to the hotline from 2019 to 2020, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Everyone should be on the lookout for signs of child abuse, experts say, not just social workers, child care or education. It’s important to report abuse as soon as it’s detected because it can cause permanent damage to the developing brain and can contribute to lifelong health problems, said Dr. Suzanne Haney, Chairman of the Board of the American. Academy of Pediatrics on Child Abuse and Neglect, in an email.