Health minister Zweli Mkhize has urged the Access to COVID Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global coalition established to combat the coronavirus pandemic, to join the call for a waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents, reports BusinessLIVE. South Africa and India are leading a group of developing countries seeking a waiver of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (Trips) on COVID-19 vaccines to expand the number of companies that can manufacture the products beyond patent holders and their licensees, to ramp up supplies to low and middle-income countries.
Their proposal has been backed by the health activists and the AU, but is opposed by the EU, UK, and the US, which have strong domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing industries. “We need to discuss sharing and transfer of technology for local production where possible, to increasing vaccine production,” Mkhize said at the fifth ACT accelerator facilitation council meeting.
Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the AU Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance, said in BusinessLIVE that countries that have secured ample supplies and vaccinated their most vulnerable citizens should share doses with nations that lag behind. “Vaccines are the light in the darkness of these times and the hope of the needy. It is morally reprehensible to think of denying this in a timely manner to those without choice and without voice,” Alakija said.
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong urged countries with extra doses to release them as soon as possible. “We need vaccines sooner rather than later. Any delay enables the virus to gain a foothold on the continent. We have HIV, TB, malaria … we don’t want another endemic disease,” he said.
Full BusinessLIVE report (Restricted access)