Covid-19 Pandemic – from 2020 in our Region

See also Vaccines – subheading under this page

See also HAIAP News April 2021
HAIAP 1981-2021 Celebrating 40 years
Access to affordable new medicines, vaccines and devices: History, Complex Issues and Advocacy – Beverley Snell
Whoever finds the vaccine must share it – Human Rights Watch
World’s poorest countries at India’s mercy for vaccines – Achal Prabhala & Leena Menghaney
WTO DG’s vaccine event differing perspectives – D Ravi Kanth TWN
Feature: Public Health Policies and healthcare workers response to COVID-19 in Thailand  Viroj Tangcharoensathien et al
Download the pdf here
HAIAP News April 2021

HAIAP News December 2020
Proposed India / South Africa IP waiver
Why COVAX is not enough
Explanation of vaccine efficacy estimates
Equitable access to vaccines
The PHM position statement on access to vaccines
Feature –The struggle to combat COVID-19:
    Vietnam, Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, Widening inequities
Download the pdf here
HAIAP News December 2020

See also HAIAP News April 2020 and August 2020
April 2020 Issue:

  • Covid 19 in our region:   India, Kerala State, Singapore, Bangladesh. Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand,  New Zealand
  • Treatment for COVID-19?                                                                  
  • Testing for Covid -19 (inc. ICMR Protocol)
  • Does BCG vaccination have an impact of COVID-19 infection?
  • The COVID-19 drug pipeline

August 2020 Issue:

  • WHO Solidarity Trials
  • Sweden’s gamble for herd immunity. Was it worth it?
  • Covid-19 in the Region Features:
    • Covid-19 – Will there be a vaccine soon?
    • Response to Covid-19 pandemic:  Kerala – How it is done; Dharavi response
  • Responses in Mekong countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia
  • New Zealand – new challenges

Tribute to Indian Health Workers
On October 2, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) released a poster carrying the names and photographs of 515 doctors — 492 males and 23 females — who died on the line of duty while treating Covid-19 patients. The poster is a tribute paid to the martyred doctors on the occasion of the 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, said the apex association of doctors in the country. Read more
A protocol for the protection of Indian Health Care workers has been developed by the Indian Medical Association.
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Source of COVID-19
Dr Chan Chee Khoon of the Malaysian Citizen’s Health Initiative demystifies the Wuhan investigation of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in early 2020. Dr Chee Khoon is a retired academic, active as a health policy analyst and writer.
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Vaccine development
Medicines Law and Policy (October 2020) published a briefing paper that untangles the various roles/relationships between Oxford University & the Jenner Institute, AstraZeneca and several other actors working on one of the leading candidate vaccines. The ‘Oxford / AstraZeneca’ vaccine is one of the world’s leading hopes in the race to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Its history is not as clear, though, as it may first seem. The media reporting about the vaccine tends to focus either on the very small (non-profit, academic) Jenner Institute at Oxford University, where the vaccine was first invented, or the very large (‘Big Pharma’ firm) AstraZeneca, which is now responsible for organising its (non-profit) world-wide development, manufacture and distribution. However, examining the intellectual property (IP) path of the vaccine from invention to manufacture and distribution reveals a more complex picture that involves other important actors (with for-profit perspectives). The paper also provides comments as well as raises some important questions about what might yet be done better and what lessons can be learned for the future.
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Proposal for TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 related medicines and technologies secures strong support from LMICs
Posted on November 8, 2020 

In a landmark move, India and South Africa on 2 October asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other intellectual property (IP) related to COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies for the duration of the pandemic, until global herd immunity is achieved. 
In the global battle for putting people’s lives before patents and the profits of big pharmaceutical companies, South Africa, India, Kenya, and Eswatini have issued a clarion call for a waiver from certain provisions of the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement for combating the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, participants told the SUNS.

The proposal for a TRIPS waiver by India, South Africa, Kenya and Eswatini (formerly called Swaziland) secured strong support from developing countries, while the United States and the European Union among others rejected it, said participants, who asked not to be identified.

At a meeting of the WTO’s TRIPS Council on 16 October, South Africa, India, Kenya and Eswatini made a comprehensive case as to why provisions governing “certain obligations related to COVID-19 products and technologies” under Sections 1 (copyrights and related rights), 4 (industrial designs), 5 (patents), and 7 (protection of undisclosed information) of Part II of the TRIPS Agreement need to be waived off.

Statement by Sri Lanka at WTO Council of Trips
Ms Gothami Silva, Sri Lankan Ambassador/Permanent Representative to WTO Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the WTO provided a very clear detailed statement in unequivocal support of the proposals. She expressed thanks and immense appreciation to India, South Africa, Kenya and other newly joined co-sponsors for presenting their extremely relevant and timely proposal for a Waiver from certain provisions of TRIPS Agreement for Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid-19.

In a Tweet posted on 17 October, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the proposal tabled by South Africa and India “to ease international and intellectual property agreement on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments & tests in order to make the tools available to all who need them at an affordable cost.”

“Ending the pandemic starts with collaboration,” he said, suggesting that the WHO had launched the “COVID-19 Technology Access Pool in May, inviting countries to share data, knowledge and intellectual property on vital, life-saving health products in the fight against the coronavirus.”

D. Ravi Kanth of Third World Network (TWN) provided a very detailed explanation of the waiver proposal on October 19.

A briefing document prepared by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aims to provide further details related to this important development, including a Q&A; an overview of the impact of IP barriers on access to therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics; three case studies examining IP barriers in the context of COVID-19; and examples of Article IX waivers that have been granted with respect to provisions under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) Agreement in the past. 

The MSF document provides answers to the following questions: 
What has been proposed? 
What would it mean if the waiver was granted? 
Is it legal to request a waiver from obligations under the TRIPS Agreement? 
Does the waiver proposed apply only to developing countries? 
How is a final decision reached at WTO on a waiver? 
Has a consensus been reached by WTO members to grant waivers in the past? 
Is the waiver permanent? 
Why is the waiver important at this moment in the pandemic?
Some people say IP is not an issue for COVID-19 tools. If that is true, why is a waiver needed?
Why do countries need a waiver when they can already use TRIPS flexibilities for public health?
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