December 24th that the website of the French Institute of International Relations and Strategy published an article entitled “The COVID-19 vaccine business is at the center of the WTO debate”.
The author is Sylvie Mattley, deputy director of the Institute, and the article pointed out that the debate around globalization is in national egoism and There are still differences between defending collective interests; it also proves that the state is no longer the only participant in global governance under reform. The full text is excerpted as follows:
As Europe and the United States begin to vaccinate against the coronavirus, many heads of state issued a statement hoping that everyone around the world will be vaccinated.
However, so far, developed countries have purchased almost 80% of the global vaccine production by 2022. Some countries have obtained enough vaccine doses for the entire population in their country to vaccinate several times, thus intercepting an excessive share of available vaccines.
In addition, the current debate within the World Trade Organization on the fight against the coronavirus epidemic does not give any illusion related to the good will of the most developed countries.
In an editorial introducing the 11th issue of the WTO Briefing, the monthly letter sent by the Permanent Mission of France to the WTO explains how the countries where large pharmaceutical companies are located are striving to respect intellectual property agreements.
On the contrary, emerging and developing countries are aware that, as usual, they will eventually get vaccines, and are worried about the costs of vaccination campaigns on them and their nationals, so they call for the suspension of the implementation of these agreements so that treatment methods and vaccines can be obtained.
“However, it was previously thought that this issue had been resolved since the 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference! The decision of that meeting led to the only amendment to the WTO agreement since the Uruguay Round: it allowed the least developed countries and countries with insufficient productive capacity to use ‘special compulsory licenses’ to import generic drugs that are not registered for all drugs.” Jean-Marie Bogan explained in the editorial of the 11th issue of the briefing.
Therefore, India and South Africa submitted a request for a moratorium on the implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in early December.
This conflicts with the vision of a large EU-led power that is more spiritually liberal but in fact conservative and protectionist, which, very certain, revolves around a certain concept of vaccine diplomacy, and also has geopolitical implications.
This time, these different visions also divide enterprises. Some of these enterprises are putting pressure on their governments to protect their vaccines and issue patents as soon as possible. Other businesses cooperate with initiatives aimed at vaccinate as many people as possible.
Because its research and development has received strong public funding, and considering the urgency of health, the former’s approach is surprising, even shocking, and sales in rich countries alone have guaranteed their return on investment and profits. This is completely lacking transparency, and we may never know how much these profits are.
On the other hand, the latter, which is an innovation and worth emphasizing, established a global fund to deal with the major epidemics (AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria) at that time as early as the 21st century, and also in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Bank and WHO At the initiative, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization was established.
The alliance has pushed vaccine suppliers to reduce prices for the poorest countries and is now involved in vaccination activities for half of the world’s children. These businesses are now engaged in the Accelerated Program of Access to COVID-19-related Tools, including the “Vaccine” pillar of the “COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Plan”.
It is worth mentioning that Ngozi Okunjo-Iveala, the African candidate for the Director-General of the WTO, is currently the chairman of the Board of Director-General of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which is also responsible for the “COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan”, but her appointment, originally scheduled for early November, was blocked by the United States and South Korea.
This situation once again shows us that the debate around globalization still has differences between national egoism and the defense of collective interests, and is quite predictable. It also proves that the state is no longer the only participant in global governance under reform.
Non-state actors, enterprises and non-governmental organizations, as representatives of civil society, are more actively and effectively looking for collective and pragmatic solutions in the most operational situations.