There has been a total of 1,546,316,352 vaccine doses administered globally as of May 27, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). File picture: Pixabay.
There has been a total of 1,546,316,352 vaccine doses administered globally as of May 27, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). File picture: Pixabay.

Rights group calls for vaccine IP to be shared

By Crispin Adriaanse Time of article published May 31, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Human Rights Watch believes the key to ending the Covid-19 pandemic is not through the goodwill of First World countries to donate vaccines.

Instead, the rights group maintains that the restrictions on intellectual property (IP) should be waived, to allow for the production of Covid-19 vaccines around the world.

Akshaya Kumar, director of crisis advocacy at HRW, and Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director of HRW, highlighted the inequitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

They said that 17% of the world’s vaccines have been received by lower-income countries, who account for 47% of the world’s population, compared with European countries where the EU signed for 1.8 billion doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, which would cover its entire population.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti last week appealed to the international community for 200 million doses of any WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccine in order to reach the continent’s goal of vaccinating 10% of its population by September 2021, according to a WHO statement.

HRW believes boosting production is required for any goals of vaccination rates of lower-income countries to be met.

This could come to fruition as the US backs a move to waive some IP on the Covid-19 vaccine in the name of access for all. There has also been notable support for this proposal put forward by South Africa and India in October 2020, as supported by one hundred governments around the world.

The EU Commission is against the proposal, and the French government is blowing “hot and cold”, according to HRW.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is on a diplomatic mission to rebuild ties with Africa, has visited Rwanda and South Africa, according to his official social media account.

Macron’s scepticism of the waiver is in part embedded “in an anachronistic assessment of the developing world’s capacities”, Kumar and Jeannerod wrote.

Meanwhile, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has identified five African countries as sights for production, namely South Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame is interested in obtaining the first mRNA facility in Africa.

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases, according to the Africa CDC.

As of May 30, the WHO has recorded a global total of 169,597,415 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 3,530,582 deaths. A total of 1,546,316,352 vaccine doses have been administered globally as of May 27.

– African News Agency

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