Media/Policy Watch

Media/Policy Watch
This watch section is intended to alert readers to substantive news, analysis and opinion from the general media and selected think tanks and similar organizations on vaccines, immunization, global public health and related themes. Media Watch is not intended to be exhaustive, but indicative of themes and issues CVEP is actively tracking. This section will grow from an initial base of newspapers, magazines and blog sources, and is segregated from Journal Watch above which scans the peer-reviewed journal ecology.
We acknowledge the Western/Northern bias in this initial selection of titles and invite suggestions for expanded coverage. We are conservative in our outlook in adding news sources which largely report on primary content we are already covering above. Many electronic media sources have tiered, fee-based subscription models for access. We will provide full-text where content is published without restriction, but most publications require registration and some subscription level.
The sheer volume of vaccine and pandemic-related coverage is extraordinary. We will strive to present the most substantive analysis and commentary we encounter.

 

The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
[No new, unique, relevant content]

 

BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
[No new, unique, relevant content]

 

The Economist
http://www.economist.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
Covid catastrophe
India’s giant second wave is a disaster for it and the world
The government’s distraction and complacency have amplified the surge
Leaders Apr 24th 2021 edition

Doses of scepticism
Africa’s covid-19 vaccination drive is off to a slow start
Scant supply is the biggest problem, but not the only one
Apr 24th 2021 edition

Free exchange
How to think about vaccines and patents in a pandemic
Do public-health crises call for a departure from the rules?
Apr 24th 2021 edition

 

Financial Times
https://www.ft.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
Coronavirus latest: CDC head warns of ‘unsettling gaps’ in vaccine coverage across US
University of Michigan to mandate vaccines for students living on-campus
April 23, 2021

Japanese politics & policy
Japan to impose new state of emergency as Covid-19 cases rise
April 23, 2021
Top of Form
Bottom of Form

Coronavirus latest: Canada bans flights from India and Pakistan over variants
Thailand reports record infections as it secures more vaccines
April 23, 2021

 

Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
[No new, unique, relevant content]

 

Foreign Affairs
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
[No new, unique, relevant content]

 

Foreign Policy
http://foreignpolicy.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
[No new, unique, relevant content]

 

New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
[No new, unique, relevant content]

 

New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
Climate
U.S. Is Under Pressure to Release Vaccine Supplies as India Faces Deadly Surge
The Biden administration is blocking the export of supplies that Indian vaccine makers say they need to expand production.
By Somini Sengupta
PRINT EDITION April 25, 2021

Africa
Africa’s already slow vaccine drive is threatened as supplies from a stricken India are halted.
India’s dire Covid crisis is having global ripple effects, especially in Africa, which has 17 percent of the world’s people but is far behind in vaccinations.
By Abdi Latif Dahir

U.S.
Vaccines Made at Troubled Baltimore Plant Were Shipped to Canada and Mexico
The Biden administration said it did not know of manufacturing problems at the Emergent factory when it approved shipping millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The company says the doses were safe.
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Chris Hamby
PRINT EDITION Vaccines From Troubled Site Were Shipped Out of U.S.| April 24, 2021, Page A6

Opinion
I Run the W.H.O., and I Know That Rich Countries Must Make a Choice
If they keep their vaccine promises, the pandemic can end.
By Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
April 22, 2021
Almost one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, and yet the weekly number of cases hit a record high last week, and deaths are climbing, on pace to eclipse 2020’s grim tally. How can this be? Weren’t vaccines supposed to douse the flames of the pandemic?

Yes, and they are. But here’s the thing about an inferno: If you hose only one part of it, the rest will keep burning.

Many countries all over the world are facing a severe crisis, with high transmission and intensive care units overflowing with patients and running short on essential supplies, like oxygen.

Why is this happening? For several reasons: The rise of more transmissible variants, the inconsistent application and premature easing of public health measures like mask mandates and physical distancing, populations that are understandably weary of adhering to those measures and the inequitable distribution of vaccines

Scientists developed several vaccines for Covid-19 in record time. Yet of the more than 890 million vaccine doses that have been administered globally, more than 81 percent have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Low-income countries have received just 0.3 percent.

This problem is sadly predictable. When the H.I.V. epidemic erupted in the 1980s, lifesaving antiretrovirals were developed rapidly, and yet a decade passed before they became available in sub-Saharan Africa.

A year ago, the World Health Organization and many global health partners came together in an effort to avoid history repeating. The Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, including the vaccine sharing initiative Covax, was begun to ensure the most equitable possible distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for Covid-19.

The concept was crystal clear: At a time when no one knew which vaccines would prove effective in clinical trials, Covax was designed to share the huge inherent risks of vaccine development, and to offer a mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable rollout.

While scientists toiled in laboratories, the W.H.O. and partners set standards, facilitated trials, raised funds, tracked manufacturing progress and worked with countries to prepare for rollout.

Countries at all income levels, manufacturers and others in the private sector committed to participate.
But many of the same wealthy countries that were publicly expressing support for Covax were in parallel preordering the same vaccines on which Covax was relying.

In January, I issued a global challenge to see vaccination underway in all countries within the first 100 days of the year. This was an eminently achievable goal.

By April 10 — the 100th day — we had come close to achieving it: All but 26 countries had started vaccination, and of those, 12 were about to start, leaving 14 countries that had either not requested vaccines through Covax or were not ready to start vaccinating.

But the amount of vaccines delivered has been totally insufficient. As of Thursday, Covax has distributed 43 million doses of vaccine to 119 countries — covering just 0.5 percent of their combined population of more than four billion.

Since the ACT Accelerator’s birth a year ago, many of the world’s biggest economies have given strong support to Covax politically and financially, but they have also undermined it in other ways.

First, vaccine nationalism has weakened Covax, with a handful of rich countries gobbling up the anticipated supply as manufacturers sell to the highest bidder, while the rest of the world scrambles for the scraps. Some countries have placed orders for enough doses to vaccinate their entire population several times over, promising to share only after they have used everything they need, perpetuating the pattern of patronage that keeps the world’s have-nots exactly where they are.

Second, vaccine diplomacy has undermined Covax as countries with vaccines make bilateral donations for reasons that have more to do with geopolitical goals than public health. This inevitably leaves countries with the least political clout as wallflowers at the vaccine ball.

Third, vaccine hesitancy has hampered the rollout of vaccines, through the same combination of myth and misinformation that has enabled measles to resurge around the world. Reports of very rare side effects linked to some vaccines have spurred countries with other options to cast some aside. This includes vaccines that many of the world’s low-income nations were relying on but now question. Let’s be clear: While safety is paramount and we pay careful attention to any signs of adverse events, the shots’ benefits vastly outweigh the risks for all four vaccines with W.H.O. emergency use listing.

And fourth, a new trend — let’s call it vaccine euphoria — is undermining hard-won gains as some countries relax public health measures too quickly and some people assume that vaccines have ended the pandemic, at least where they live.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Scarcity drives inequity and puts the global recovery at risk. The longer this coronavirus circulates anywhere, the longer global trade and travel will be disrupted, and the higher the chances that a variant could emerge that renders vaccines less effective. That’s just what viruses do.

We face the very real possibility of affluent countries administering variant-blocking boosters to already vaccinated people when many countries will still be scrounging for enough vaccines to cover their most-at-risk groups.

This is unacceptable. Analysts predict vaccines will generate huge revenues for manufacturers. Meanwhile, the ACT Accelerator is still $19 billion short of the funds it needs to expand access not just to vaccines but also to diagnostics and treatments like oxygen. But even if we had all the funds we need, money doesn’t help if there are no vaccines to buy.

The solution is threefold: We need the countries and companies that control the global supply to share financially, to share their doses with Covax immediately and to share their know-how to urgently and massively scale up the production and equitable distribution of vaccines.

One way to do this is through voluntary licensing with technology transfer, in which a company that owns the patents on a vaccine licenses another manufacturer to produce its shots, usually for a fee. Some companies have done this on a bilateral basis. But such agreements tend to be exclusive and nontransparent, compromising equitable access.

A more transparent method is for companies to share licenses through the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, a globally coordinated mechanism proposed by Costa Rica and started by the W.H.O. last year.
Another option, proposed by South Africa and India, is to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 products through a World Trade Organization agreement that would level the playing field and give countries more leverage in their discussions with companies. Governments could drive greater sharing of intellectual property by offering incentives to companies to do it.

If this is not a time to take those actions, it’s hard to fathom when that would be.

In combination with proven public health measures, we have all the tools to tame this pandemic everywhere in a matter of months. It comes down to a simple choice: to share or not to share.

Whether or not we do is not a test of science, financial muscle or industrial prowess; it’s a test of character.

 

Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/
Accessed 24 Apr 2021
World
A gift to Damascus: 150,000 COVID-19 Chinese vaccines
DAMASCUS, Syri a — The Syrian government received the first batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday, a gift of 150,000 jabs to Damascus, Syrian and Chinese officials said.
The Chinese vaccines arrived in Damascus airport where they were received by Syria’s Health Minister Hassan Ghabbash and China’s ambassador to Damascus.
The Chinese batch comes a few days after more than 200,000 jabs were delivered to Syria through the United Nations-led platform which provides vaccines to the needy…
Apr 24, 2021