Questions You Should be Asking the World Around You
The Biden administration’s endorsement of a proposal to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines is facing new opposition from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The limiting factor for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high quality standards, not the patents,” a spokesperson for Merkel said Thursday, according to Bloomberg. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and this has to remain so in the future.”
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced this week that the Biden administration was supporting a proposal in the World Trade Organization to open up patents on Covid-19 vaccines.
Tai said the “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the announcement a “monumental moment in the fight against Covid-19.
Supporters of the measure have said removing intellectual property protections will help low-income countries produce and distribute vaccines faster. Critics, however, like vaccine advocate Bill Gates, have argued that such a move presents difficulties and could hinder the safety of future vaccines.
After Biden’s endorsement of the proposal, stock for companies like Pfizer and Moderna fell.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Thursday he is “not at all” in favor of the US’ stance.
“The problem is that there are no facilities in the world outside the ones that we can build ourselves,” he told AFP.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said earlier on Thursday that the EU is ready to have discussions on the proposal to remove patent protections from vaccines. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also expressed its support for waiving patents.
On Thursday, Spain’s government said the proposal is the “way forward” but does not go far enough to help poorer countries, Reuters reported. Madrid said waiving the intellectual property rights will take time and pharmaceutical companies should be flexible in granting licenses.
This is very interesting. Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden, Ursula Von Der Leyen, and Angela Merkel have shared their thoughts on this matter. I thought Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel would have been more agreeable to the proposal, but it’s not a very big deal if we look at it from a distant perspective.
Not to mention that the government of Spain had voiced its reaction too.
I think the best part about this is that at least we have 4 of the most powerful leaders in this world engaging in a discussion that focuses on a mutual struggle – that which is of course the topic of solving COVID-19. This is very rare in my opinion.
It’s better to have conversations like this than it is to have conversations about escalations of conflict between different nations. What is happening right now is a meeting of minds.
There are some concerns that I have about this topic. Particularly the issue of how long it would take, for discussions on this, to produce positive results, and just how narrow of a scope such waivers will result in, if they agree to go ahead with it. Since COVID-19 is an extremely rare circumstance as well as simultaneously being a dire emergency in itself, wouldn’t this be the rare opportunity for pharmaceutical bosses to present a charitable act towards the people?
In the meantime, let’s read about something that is equally as interesting!
The Russian Health Ministry has authorized the use of Sputnik Light, a one-shot coronavirus vaccine said to be even more efficient than some two-dose jabs currently on the market.
Sputnik Light is the first component of the widely used Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, its researchers explained. However, the single dose has shown 79.4% efficacy, which “is higher than that of many two-dose vaccines,” the developers said in a statement.
Researchers have analyzed the efficacy rate based on data received from Russia’s mass vaccination program between December 2020 and April 2021. Having studied data taken 28 days after a single injection was administered, they said the infection rate among one-time vaccinated people was just 0.277%. The unvaccinated adult population showed 1.349% infection rate over the same period.
Sputnik Light is a fast and reliable pandemic fighter. It helps to achieve a high level of protection quicker, helping to swiftly defeat virus surges and create lasting protection in the community. pic.twitter.com/oF1s1HrrMR
— Sputnik V (@sputnikvaccine) May 6, 2021
The scientists behind the vaccine say it’s effective against new Covid-19 strains. Antibodies neutralizing the deadly virus were activated in over 91% of recipients on the 28th day post shot. It is also said to provide absolute protection against severe cases of the disease. Following the trials, no serious side effects have been registered, Sputnik Light researchers report.
Developers hope the single dose will help provide faster immunization among larger numbers of people. “The single-dose regimen solves the challenge of immunizing large groups in a shorter time, which is especially important during the acute phase of the spread of coronavirus, achieving herd immunity faster,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which funds the vaccine. He also pointed out that Sputnik Light “has an affordable price of less than $10,” and can be easily transported and stored.
Sputnik V, which has been registered in more than 60 countries worldwide, will remain Russia’s main vaccine, while the new light shot is expected to help deal with peaks of the disease and increase vaccination rates. It is also intended for wider international use.
Alongside the Sputnik vaccines, two other Covid jabs, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac are registered in Russia. Researchers have also been working on a Sputnik V nasal spray. Some 13.4 million Russians have received at least one shot, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova reported on Thursday, adding that 9.4 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated.
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