World Bank, IMF, WHO, WTO heads call for urgent action to accelerate global vaccine access

Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research

 

World Bank, IMF, WHO, WTO heads call for urgent action to accelerate global vaccine access
30 June 2021
The heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization and the WTO convened on 30 June the first meeting of the Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries. David Malpass, Kristalina Georgieva, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said urgent action is needed to stop the rising human toll due to the pandemic and halt further divergence in the economic recovery between advanced economies and the rest. Following the meeting, they issued a joint statement:

 

Joint statement
“As many countries are struggling with new variants and a third wave of COVID-19 infections, accelerating access to vaccines becomes even more critical to ending the pandemic everywhere and achieving broad-based growth. We are deeply concerned about the limited vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and support for deliveries available to developing countries. Urgent action is needed now to arrest the rising human toll due to the pandemic, and to halt further divergence in the economic recovery between advanced economies and the rest.

We have formed a Task Force, as a “war room” to help track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 health tools to developing countries and to mobilize relevant stakeholders and national leaders to remove critical roadblocks — in support of the priorities set out by World Bank Group, IMF, WHO, and WTO including in the joint statements of June 1 and June 3, and in the IMF staff’s $50 billion proposal.

At today’s first meeting, we discussed the urgency of increasing supplies of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for developing countries. We also looked at practical and effective ways to track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

 

As an urgent first step, we are calling on G20 countries to
(1) embrace the target of at least 40 percent in every country by end-2021, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022,
(2) share more vaccine doses now, including by ensuring at least 1 billion doses are shared with developing countries in 2021 starting immediately,
(3) provide financing, including grants and concessional financing, to close the residual gaps, including for the ACT-Accelerator, and
(4) remove all barriers to export of inputs and finished vaccines, and other barriers to supply chain operations.

In addition, to enhance transparency we agreed to compile data on dose requests (by type and quantity), contracts, deliveries (including through donations), and deployments of COVID-19 vaccines to low and middle-income countries — and make it available as part of a shared country-level dashboard. We also agreed to take steps to address hesitancy, and to coordinate efforts to address gaps in readiness, so countries are positioned to receive, deploy and administer vaccines.”

 

::::::

WTO technical symposium feeds into continuing efforts to deal with COVID-19 pandemic
29 June 2021
The WTO held a technical symposium on 29 June 2021 to address the main challenges to vaccine supply chain and regulatory transparency in the context of COVID-19. Representatives of the medical and pharmaceutical industry, international organizations and the WTO Secretariat explored new ways to cooperate towards finding practical solutions to scale up the global COVID-19 response and address gaps in the global production and distribution of vaccines, personal protective equipment and other medical technologies…
Panellists called for the WTO to step up its critical role in working with others to defeat the pandemic, stressing that it could look at the entire ecosystem relevant for ramping up manufacturing, transferring technology and know-how, and maintaining the free flow of vaccines, inputs and other technologies…

 

::::::

A Declaration from Members of the World’s Biotechnology Sector On Global Access to COVID Vaccines & Treatments and the Role of Intellectual Property
June 24, 2021
[Text-bolding from original]
We, the undersigned CEOs of global biotechnology companies and associations have a social responsibility to work with other stakeholders – healthcare providers, governments, multilateral organizations, and non-governmental donor organizations – to ensure that COVID vaccines and treatments get to the patients in the world who most need them. We are working hard to fulfill this responsibility.

:: Our sector must continue to play a constructive, proactive part in developing COVID solutions and the global manufacturing capacity to produce them. In the past year, over 950 global R&D projects have been launched on COVID vaccines, treatments, and biologics, as companies have diverted efforts from other projects [i]. 70 percent of these projects are by small and medium sized companies [ii]. Over 250 global partnerships have been formed to build manufacturing capacity [iii]. And we are working hard to do more.

:: Intellectual property is the foundation of our sector. It is responsible for creating the global biotech network that responded so quickly to the COVID crisis in the first place. It is what gives investors the confidence to fund companies with long time horizons and high risks. It gave companies the assurance that they could quickly pivot during the early days of the pandemic into COVID projects. And it helped ensure the type of global cooperation and partnerships that are driving companies, countries, and manufacturers to quickly scale up the production.

:: We support strong, collaborative efforts like those endorsed by the G-20 [iv] to address the global imbalances in access to COVID vaccines and treatments. Success will require national governments to address legislative or contractual impediments to supplying populations in need, especially in low- and middle- income countries. Bottlenecks and shortages in global supply chains for vaccine production need to be urgently addressed. And strained health-care systems in low-and middle-income countries need significant support to ensure vaccines get to people.

:: The proposed “waiver” of intellectual property rights proposed in the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be ineffective and counterproductive in addressing this crisis. Intellectual property rights are not responsible for the imbalance in COVID vaccine supplies between higher and lower income countries. It will create a long contentious global negotiation that will not urgently address the crisis, and foster more “vaccine nationalism,” exacerbating shortages in an already strained global supply chain. It would divert limited resources from companies that are focused on maximizing current global partnerships while maintaining quality and patient safety. Lastly, it would send a powerful signal to the biotech sector and investors to avoid taking the risks to develop solutions in future public health emergencies.

:: Current estimates are that existing global vaccine manufacturers will produce more than 11 billion doses of COVID vaccines in 2021 [v], and significantly more in the first part of 2022. We are committed to working with other global stakeholders to see that these doses get to those that most need them, wherever they may be.

List of signatories at title link above

Endnotes
i Biotechnology Innovation Organization, COVID -19 Biotracker, https://www.bio.org/policy/human- health/vaccines-biodefense/coronavirus/pipeline-trackerink
ii Ibid.
iii List of Global Vaccine Partnerships, https://www.bio.org/sites/default/files/2021- 05/Industry_Partnerships_on_COVID_BIO.pdf
iv https://global-health-summit.europa.eu/rome-declaration_en
v https://www.bio.org/sites/default/files/2021-05/Airfinity_production.pdf