WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iveala calls for more “political will” over Covid on future pandemics

At the same time, he said, the world needs to find ways to boost the technology transfer of the vaccine – to ensure that even intellectual property denial takes place, countries have what they need to create a shot.

In an interview with POLITICO, Okonjo-Iweala talked about rejecting TRIPS, how to prepare for the next pandemic, and what the world is missing in the fight against Covid-19.

Read the interview below, corrected for clarity.

Question: What are we still missing out on in the fight against Covid-19, and are there any real ways to improve before other more contagious and potentially deadly variants emerge?

Answer: Not sunk. This “no one is protected until everyone is protected” became a banal comment. What we are mistaken about is that we do not realize that this is actually the case and that in developed countries – where vaccination rates are over 60 percent – no one will be able to sleep peacefully when large numbers of people are not vaccinated elsewhere. Developed countries need to work full-time with countries with low vaccination rates to address any problems on the ground in order to vaccinate them.

But people feel somehow, well, we gave them money here, we did it here, we made donations and we did our part. I do not think that’s enough. If these countries have a very weak ability to administer on the ground [shots]Then you either have to massively strengthen multilateral organizations … get in there and try and help solve the problem [or] You need to be prepared to fund the strengthening of health systems in these countries. We are still in danger because there are so many people in the world who are not vaccinated.

The second thing we are mistaken about is that we think this case is coming to an end. Now is the feeling that it’s over დით let’s release everything. And it can be a little overly complacent. We really have to be careful.

The third thing we are wrong about is that we are not preparing for the next pandemic. There is not enough oversight of what is happening in relation to diseases. And we have to fund it.

In five years, the world will have to spend $ 75 billion, $ 15 billion a year, of which $ 10 billion goes to a financial intermediary that can manage the World Bank to prepare for the next pandemic. And the thing is, there is a reluctance to make that money. We spent $ 26 trillion fighting the pandemic. But we are not ready to spend $ 75 billion to start prevention. Ე is incorrect. This is obvious, absolutely wrong.

Question: Where are the talks about the TRIPS refusal, specifically with a smaller group of representatives from the US, the EU, India and South Africa?

– It was quite difficult. You know, if it was easy, it would be done. They were discussing this a year before I came here. So we started doing this small group process and it’s a difficult process. But I think, let’s say, we see some movement in the right direction, towards the frame, which I can say I do not want to say more. We do not have yet. We still have gaps to overcome.

Question: Are you an optimist?

A: Ahhhh. I’m not… I’m not a pessimist. I am optimistic by nature, so I always see a half full glass. But, seriously, we have to keep working because we think there is a landing zone. This can be difficult. But we have to be very careful to work until all parties are comfortable with where we are.

Question: Is it possible to opt out of IP agreement for diagnostic materials and therapies?

_ Jumped very fast. People need to wait and see what we get for vaccines before we move on to therapeutic methods. They are slightly different from vaccines. Making vaccines is not so easy. Therapeutic and diagnostic are a little different. There is not so much concern when treating generics as when making vaccines.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles to completing the global vaccination against Covid at this stage of the pandemic?

A: I spoke to the President of Botswana a few days ago. In this and many other countries people were trained to get pockets and there was no supply. And after a long wait received no shots. Now there are shots. But by that time people were saying, “Okay, all this is not coming and I’m going to do my job.” So there is a bit of apathy. There is some hesitation. You will definitely need to set up campaigns to force people into these troops. Why? Because the world is still at risk.

Question: What else do you expect to respond to a pandemic in a broader trade and healthcare package? Do members expect a promise not to impose export restrictions during a future pandemic?

Answer: There are different views on this package. There are many who are willing to do what you said and say, “Look, we will not do this in a pandemic.” But there are other members who think it interferes with their rights and responsibilities under the WTO, which says you can impose it, but you have to be transparent, it has to be proportionate, transparent and temporary. So they still want to maintain that ability in the WTO. They do not want their rights and responsibilities to be violated.

Sounds hard again, but I already see how this landing zone will be for the different views that will help in this.

There is a lot that can be done to move products. We worked a lot on the supply chain. Work with vaccine manufacturers, for example, to monitor their supply chains, to help with raw material shortages. And with that we encouraged them to decentralize production.

The last part is the cooperation with other international organizations, which we also want to see in the package. The WTO, WHO and WIPO have come together during this pandemic, and we are building the platform so that despite the intellectual property agreement, we will actually have the technical assistance to help countries implement or benefit from this agreement.

Question: You mentioned the technical transfer. What conversations do you and the WTO have about technical transfer as it relates to vaccine production now and in the next pandemic?

Answer: The WTO only met with CEOs of vaccine manufacturers and conducted these conversations before bringing in other organizations because we could work together to solve problems. These conversations encourage manufacturers to really voluntarily switch technology because even if you get an IP waiver, or any compromise, it is not enough if they do not actually help you in the production process. [the vaccine]. They showed a greater desire to do so.

Question: When thinking about a future pandemic, where is the global healthcare community going to get the money to adequately prepare?

Answer: In my last speech at the G-20, a few days ago, I told them: ‘This is not about development aid. This is not about incrementalism. “This is a massive political attempt in which the political will to spend this money, which is peanuts, compared to what we have already spent, this decision must be made politically.” I am a former Minister of Finance, I know that budgets are stretched and it is very difficult. But leaders need to come together and say, ‘Listen, $ 75 billion, let’s compare [that] Which was spent. It really is nothing. You can even use innovative financing tools … where you can use some money from the capital markets. There is no lack of tools and approaches. But where is the political will?

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iveala calls for more “political will” over Covid on future pandemics

Source link WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iveala calls for more “political will” over Covid on future pandemics

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