Whenever there comes a need to raise voice for the needful, India there stands selflessly even for its kins. Yet again he has proved that when it comes to humanity he will keep standing for what is right. Today every developed country in the world is on the track of ‘vaccine nationalism’ to secure its doses of vaccine first and all developing and underdeveloped countries lagging far behind them to vaccinate their people.
What Happened recently?
Amid resistance from developed countries to India and South Africa’s joint proposal, at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure universal access to coronavirus vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced its support for the proposal. The point to note here is that India is efficient enough to secure the doses vaccine for its people but even after that it is raking voice for a universal reach of the covid-19 vaccine.
In a submission before the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Council of WTO on 2 October, India and South Africa urged WTO members for waiver of certain rules of TRIPS agreement to ensure that Intellectual property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and protection of undisclosed information do not create barriers to the timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines.
How developed countries are choking universal reach of the vaccine?
All the developed countries are on the track of vaccine nationalism in order to secure their doses of the covid-19 vaccine due to which the road of the vaccine to those countries whose infrastructure is not efficient enough to do so is choked. When a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries. This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.
For example, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the European Union Have spent tens of billions of dollars on deals with vaccine front runners such as Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, Even before their effectiveness is proven.
During the discussion at the TRIPS Council, India’s ambassador to the WTO Brajendra Navnit argued that The often-repeated argument that monopoly rights are needed to allow inventors to recoup their investment, Do not apply in case of development of health products and technologies required for handling the ongoing covid-19 crisis. He said, “We would like to remind the members that in a global pandemic where every country is affected, we need a global solution. And our waiver proposal represents an open and expedited global solution to allow uninterrupted collaboration in development, production and supply of health products and technologies required for effective covid-19 response”.
The unsatisfactory side’s counter-argument-
Countering arguments by some members that voluntary licenses are the most appropriate solution to scale up manufacturing in response to covid-19. India said that not a single patent holder has shown willingness to commit to the covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) initiative launched under the aegis of WHO.
Development in the proposal-
The proposal was taken up for discussion at the TRIPS Council meeting on 15-16 October Where developed countries including the US, European Union, Canada, Japan, UK, Australia and Switzerland rejected the proposal. While African group countries, least developed countries, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal among other countries supported the proposal. There is also a group of countries which remain indecisive on the proposal namely China, Turkey, Philippines, Colombia. Hence, the proposal will now be discussed informally among member countries and may be taken up again later before the year-end.
WHO supported the proposal
In the proposal’s support WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted, Besides WHO, As many as 379 civil society organisations including Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign MSF, People’s Vaccine Alliance, have written a letter to WTO members welcoming India and South Africa’s proposal Citing existing supply-demand gaps in accessing medical products for covid-19, including access to diagnostic testing.
Whatever will be the decision on this proposal it can clearly be understood here that the one who is powerful will keep snatching the humanitarian rights of the weaker one no matter how they accuse each other of human rights. One more thing that brings delight is the stand of India’s rival country Pakistan which proves that when it comes to humanity everyone unites automatically no matter how their ideologies differ.