By Satyaki Chakraborty
At a time, when the G-7 nations at their summit worked on a vaccine distribution strategy favouring more the developed world as against the poor countries who need most, five countries of Latin America at a meeting decided to be a part of a new international health order to share covid vaccine technology and production.
The governments of Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela attended the meeting. Apart, the regional governments of Kerala of India and Kisumu of Kenya participated. Kerala is ruled by the Left Democratic Front led by the CPIM) and the CPI and this small state of India has won appreciation for its health care system in this period of pandemic.
The move has been hailed by Progressive International (PI), a grouping formed in September 2020 by the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM) and the Sanders Foundation in a bid to reconfigure world politics. PI has been active since its founding last year in offering an alternative programme as against the neo liberal agenda that is being pursued by the right wing governments in the world. Bernie Sanders is taking prominent role in pushing his policy of free distribution of vaccine by the rich nations to the poorer countries on a priority basis.
The gathering was called as an emergency response to “vaccine apartheid.” PI says that 85 per cent of vaccines administered worldwide have been in high and upper-middle-income countries. By contrast just 0.3 per cent of doses have been administered in low-income countries. At this pace, the pandemic will continue to rip through the global south, leaving the whole world highly vulnerable, for another 57 years, the PI statement said.
At this LA countries meeting, Commitments were made in five key areas vital for speeding up the production and distribution of medicine to end the pandemic: open collaboration over Covid-19 vaccine technologies; solidarity prices for Covid-19 vaccines; sharing of regulatory capacity to approve Covid-19 vaccines for domestic use; pooling manufacturing capacity to increase production of vaccine and medical equipment; and collective disobedience to challenge the Big Pharma monopoly enforced through the World Trade Organisation.
Summit co-ordinator Varsha Gandikota-Nellutia hailed the agreement as “desperately needed to overcome the vaccine apartheid which threatens our very survival, calls the south’s sovereignty into question and risks further murderous mutations of this virus.
“A concerted effort from states, institutions, companies and peoples is needed to move from nationalism to internationalism, from competition to co-operation, from charity to solidarity,” she said. According to the organisers, China and Russia are models of vaccine internationalism since they are the only countries that have made their licences and technology available to the other countries.
The organisers mentioned that PI wanted to expand the alliance on the principles of internationalism and would welcome China’s involvement. PI along with Sanders Foundation will be holding a series of meeting in the coming days to turn the decisions into a reality and expand the emerging alliance for vaccine internationalism to include other countries manufacturers and political persons who could be of help.
The meeting appreciated the vaccine production work by Cuba despite continuing US sanctions and the communist nation’s help to give health care assistance to a number of African countries. Cuba informed that the Government would be cooperating with Vietnam in the supply of Abdala covid vaccine produced by it and also transfer the technology so that Vietnam can produce the same within the country.
The Abdala vaccine from Cuba will add to the four Covid-19 vaccines that Vietnam is now producing – Nanocovax by Nanogen, Covivac by IVAC, and two others by the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.
The Abdala vaccine produced by Cuba has passed all three phases of human trials, with the third phase involving around 48,000 people aged 19 to 80. However, Cuban Minister of Public Health Jose Angel Portal Miranda said the vaccine has yet to undergo clinical trials in any other country.
Cuba could produce around 100 million Abdala vaccine doses a year, of which only 30 million doses would be reserved for domestic use. Vietnam is also producing four domestic covid vaccines – nanocovax by Nanogen, covivac by IVAC and two others by other two organisations. (IPA Service)