Pathetic” for the US to kick WTO Covid test and treatment deal into the long grass, campaigners say.
Pathetic for the US to kick WTO Covid test and treatment deal into the long grass, campaigners say”
Release date: 6 December 2022.
Responding to reports that the US government won’t support a World Trade Organization (WTO) deal on intellectual property rules for COVID-19 treatments and tests this year, Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni, policy co-lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:
“It is heartbreaking to see the Biden administration succumb to pressure from pharmaceutical company lobbyists and their henchmen in Congress. This moment of weakness will cost countless lives in low and middle-income countries, leading to continued economic devastation, while a handful of pharmaceutical CEOs and shareholders will get even richer.
“The US has had more than two years to meaningfully engage in WTO negotiations over access to lifesaving tests and treatments. Kicking the issue further into the long grass, just as the negotiating deadline approaches, is pathetic.”
Notes to editors
The WTO reached a deal on vaccine intellectual property in June, pledging to agree whether to extend the decision to cover tests and treatments within six months. The deadline is 17 December. This is a reaction to news that the Biden administration wants to extend that deadline, while the US International Trade Commission launches an investigation into the issue: https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2022/december/us-support-extension-deadline-wto-trips-ministerial-decision-requests-usitc-investigation-provide-0
Just one in every fifty COVID-19 tests is administered in a low or middle-income country, despite these countries accounting for 84% of the world’s population: https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/act-accelerator-facilitation-council-working-group-report-on-diagnostics-and-therapeutics
There is very little publicly available data on access to COVID-19 treatments. However, orders of Paxlovid, the Pfizer-produced treatment with the highest recommendation from the WHO, indicate that three quarters of all orders will go to rich countries: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/just-quarter-pfizers-covid-19-treatment-orders-will-go-developing-countries
Dr. Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance and special envoy to WHO ACT-A, has said that “zero” doses have reached low-income countries: https://twitter.com/yodifiji/status/1595048900615864322
Many low and middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America, are excluded from licensing agreements for generic versions of COVID-19 treatments. This means they could pay $250 for a course of treatment instead of $25/course for a generic equivalent – ten times as much: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/just-quarter-pfizers-covid-19-treatment-orders-will-go-developing-countries
The pharmaceutical company lobbying operation against an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, was revealed in an investigation by Politico and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism: https://www.politico.eu/article/covid-vaccine-poor-countries-waiver-killed/
Joe Karp-Sawey, Senior Media Advisor, People’s Vaccine Alliance