In this new episode we’ll talk to two experts - Dimitri Eynikel, an expert of Doctors without Borders and CEO-researcher Olivier Hoedeman - on how the EU is dealing with the new phase of the pandemic, with a special focus on the still unresolved unequal access of large parts of the world to Covid-19 vaccines, new medicines and therapeutics. Experts have long warned that if the global population does not have access to vaccines, new variants of the virus will emerge and hit us back.
The covid-19 pandemic is still raging in many parts of the world, And while most sensible Europeans are happy to be receiving a booster jab, in low and middle income countries most people can only dream of having access to such a vaccine. So far, at least 66 per cent of people living in rich G7 countries have had two vaccine doses; In Europe even 70,8% had at least one dose, while in Africa only 6%.
The production of vaccines needs to be scaled up urgently, experts have been saying for many months; And many experts, scientists, hundreds of NGO’s, top politicians and the Pope, have argued that an important hurdle for that upscaling are patents and intellectual property rights and the refusal by Big Pharma to share technology.
This is why well over a year ago, India and South Africa called on the WTO to temporarily suspend part of an intellectual property Trade agreement known as TRIPS, which allows pharmaceutical corporations to monopolise medical knowledge. But the EU was and remains the most stubborn opponent of the so called ‘TRIPS Waiver’. Despite political rethoric, the European Commission – the executive branch of the EU - not only has a very Eurocentric way of dealing with the pandemic, but also persists in complete secrecy on how it negotiates with powerful pharmaceutical companies. The truth is that the EU is de facto blocking the increase of production because it wants to protect the competitiveness of it’s pharmaceutical sector by protecting it’s patents. And allowing non- transparency on for example the price of medicines.
In the groundbreaking article “The inside story of the Pfizer vaccine: ‘a once-in-an-epoch windfall” The Financial Times recently described how Pfizer – which has 80% of the EU market – sidelined governments: “The vaccine has transformed Pfizer’s political influence. Since the vaccine’s approval at the end of last year, Pfizer’s decisions have helped shape the course of the pandemic. It has the power to set prices and to choose which country comes first in an opaque queueing system, including for the booster programmes that rich countries are now scrambling to accelerate. when it has come to medical solutions to the pandemic, governments have been almost completely dependent on private companies.”
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Both CEO and Counter Balance raise awareness on the importance of good governance in the European Union, by researching issues like lobbying of large and powerful industries, corporate capture of decision making, corruption, fraud, human rights violations in areas like agro-business, biotech & chemical companies, the financial sector & public investment banks, trade, energy & climate, scientific research and much more...
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