Say WHO should have most control over global vaccine supply

By Sola Ogundipe

As the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus spreads in Nigeria amid concerns of the third wave of the pandemic, most Nigerians have said that pharmaceutical companies should be made to share their vaccine know-how and that the  World Health Organisation, WHO should have the most control over global vaccine supply.

 The research from the Medicine Equality Now! campaign comes as much of Africa is seeing a resurgence in COVID cases, while just over 1 percent of the continent’s population is fully vaccinated, constituting 1.5 percent of the total doses administered globally. 

The poll of Nigerians (aged 18-50), just released,  found that 80 per cent of Nigerians support national governments making pharmaceutical companies share knowledge required for other companies to make the vaccines.

From the study, 8 per cent were opposed to the idea, and just  3 percent said they were strongly opposed.

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Similarly, the research, from the Medicine Equality Now! campaign found 79 per cent of Nigerians would actually like the World Health Organisation, WHO, to have the most control over global vaccine supply, with just 6 percent saying they wanted pharmaceutical companies to have the most control.

The polling, carried out by YouGov, surveyed those living in an urban population with access to the internet.

The research found 79 per cent of Nigerians want World Health Organisation to have the most control over the global vaccine supply, with just 6 per cent saying they wanted pharmaceutical companies to have the most control.

This is the same proportion as recent polling of the US public. The polling, carried out by YouGov, surveyed those living in an urban population with access to the internet.

In response, the Executive Director,  International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, ITPC,   Solange Baptiste said: “With less than 1 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, it is no surprise the Nigerian public is very supportive of measures that would allow the world to produce significantly more vaccine doses.

“The astronomical vaccine gap between the rich countries and the poor countries everyone else, but many of these rich countries are also blocking the world’s best hope of being vaccinated before 2023-2024.

“We have to take back control of the vaccine supply from a small number of pharmaceutical companies that are accountable to no one.”

The World Trade Organisation, WTO, will hold a series of informal meetings throughout July after a waiver to the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS, Agreement was progressed to “text-based negotiations”, before the WTO General Council meets on 22-23 July.

The waiver on intellectual property rights — proposed in 2020 by India and South Africa —  would take control of the global vaccine supply away from a small number of pharmaceutical companies. The waiver is currently supported by 118 of the 164 WTO members.

Also speaking, Founder, Positive Action for Treatment Access, PATA, Ms.  Morolake Odetoyinbo: “This research shows that the majority of Nigerians want to see governments around the world given the power to come together to end the pandemic – by waiving intellectual property rights for all coronavirus vaccines.

“But in the long-term, we can’t go back to a system that continues to fail us. It fails us on HIV, TB, Hepatitis C, and many more treatable diseases.

“This pandemic needs to be a moment of reckoning – the rest of the world will not sit idly by while a handful of pharmaceutical companies, protected by western countries, make billions in profits while the rest of us suffer.

Medicine Equality Now! is a new campaign launched by Make Medicines Affordable & ITPC, calling for the removal of essential medicines, vaccines, and health technologies from the World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS Agreement.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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