Covid-19: Argentina joined as a sponsor of the proposal to release patents on vaccines

Argentina was always part of the group of countries that gave their explicit support to the temporary exemption and that now number more than 100, including the United States, a historic defender of intellectual property rights.

But declaring itself as a cosponsor implies taking the initiative as your own and promoting its realization in informal and formal negotiations, such as the one that took place again today in the WTO moderated by Norway.

It thus becomes the third country in the G20 to take this position, along with South Africa and Indonesia, and the third also in Latin America to be part of the group in which Bolivia and Venezuela are, as well as several member states from Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Although a significant majority of nations support the temporary lifting of patents on vaccines, tests and other treatments against the coronavirus, decisions in the WTO are made by the consensus of its 164 members, which is why it reaches the refusal that the EU still maintains mainly, the UK and Switzerland, headquarters of Big Pharma, to block any progress.

In today’s formal meeting there were not many concrete advances and the delegates were willing to continue talking in search of common ground, according to Telam a source who participated in the negotiation.

On the discussion table there are two proposals.

The one presented by South Africa and India, which was modified in its original content to specify, among other things, that the lifting of patents will be for “at least three years” and that it includes all the treatments and supplies used to fight against Covid- 19, not only to vaccines in their final state of production.

The other is promoted by the EU, was raised on June 4, and is based on a multilateral agreement that includes “affordable prices” of inoculants to the countries that need it most and facilitate “the use of compulsory licenses”, which that would allow more laboratories to develop generic drugs in exchange for the payment of a royalty to those who own the patents.

Supporters of the first initiative argue that an exemption from intellectual property will allow laboratories with technical capacity throughout the planet to produce generic vaccines, mainly those manufactured with messenger RNA technology, and reduce the current gap in access and distribution.

Since the proposal was presented, more than 4.2 million people have died from Covid-19 and new, more contagious variants have emerged, such as Delta and Omicron, which cause more infections, bringing health systems to the brink of collapse and threaten to perpetuate the pandemic.

The detractors of this initiative do so under the argument – the same one that large laboratories repeat – that innovation, technical knowledge, technology and qualified personnel are what expand vaccine production and not intellectual property rights.

The key to unlocking the current situation has a name and surname: Olaf Scholz, the new Chancellor of Germany after replacing Angela Merkel, who led the toughest position against the lifting of patents within the EU.

Leading a self-proclaimed “coalition of progress, the Social Democratic leader” promises a series of socially liberal domestic policies, but could make the biggest impact of all if he dares to join the global movement to make Covid-19 vaccines available to all as global public goods, “said the Nobel laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, in an opinion piece published yesterday in the British newspaper The Guardian.

He added: “The exemption is about more than humanitarian concerns and global equity. For Germany, as a major exporter, as well as a country that receives world-traveling tourists, it is also a matter of personal interest. Every day We read headlines about how Covid-19 has disrupted supply chains. This has a direct impact on the global economy. The underlying logic is clear: the fewer people around the world get vaccinated, the more room the virus has to mutate into variants. dangerous ”.

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Covid-19: Argentina joined as a sponsor of the proposal to release patents on vaccines