G20 countries have adopted the Rome Declaration which commits to equitable access to vaccines, investing in global health systems and ensuring future pandemic preparedness. The declaration was finalised on Friday during the Global Health Summit hosted by Italy and the European Commission.
The text speaks on the importance of having multilateral trading for efficient and reliable global supply chains across the whole value chain related to health emergencies.
This would include the raw materials to produce vaccines, manufacturing of access to diagnostic, tools and non-pharmaceutical goods.
Rich countries and pharmaceutical giants have agreed to bridge the gap of global health inequity that has been widely highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen says this is groundbreaking and historical.
“I think it is groundbreaking and really historical because we have for the very first time the G20, that is the United States and China, the European Union and Russia, India and Latin America, South Africa and many others, all of them committing to basic principles. At the beginning the big principle of multilateralism that goes like a golden thread through the declaration. What is so important in there, important is that this is a very clear ‘no’ to health nationalism.”
At the World Trade Organization, South Africa and India are leading the proposal to impose a waiver on patents on COVID-19 vaccines, products and equipment.
Their argument is that to fight the pandemic with full force, there needs to be increased manufacturing capacity, and this means the sharing of knowledge and technology transfer in order for the health products to be produced globally.
According to the World Health Organization’s data, more than 1-and-half billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally but only around 1-percent of them have been in Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the Summit.
He said: “For this Global Health Summit to achieve its aims we must share lessons and best practices on how we are dealing with this current pandemic we must show our commitment to equitable access to tools, supplies, vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. We must do away with health and vaccine nationalism. It is for this reason that we must review the international intellectual property and patent regime and determine with regard to how it should be applied in the event of global health emergencies. We are in a global war and must use all our weapons without hiding behind profit at the expense of lives.”
American philanthropist, Bill Gates, urged the Richer nations to cover the costs of vaccinating the Global South.
“The European Union committed to donating one-million vaccines to poorer nations by the end of the year. This is on top of its pledge of 1-point-2 billion dollars to build vaccination manufacturing plants in Africa. While Pharmaceutical company, Pfizer-BioNTech agreed to provide 1-point-3 billion doses to low-income nations without profit; and to middle-income nations at a lower cost.”
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