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Campaigners kick against empty COVID-19 promises ahead of global vaccine summit

By Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos) and Matthew Ogune (Abuja)
22 September 2021   |   3:58 am
Ahead of President Biden’s global COVID-19 summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS), today, campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance are calling on world leaders...

• Coalition hails Emefiele on economic growth amid pandemic

Ahead of President Biden’s global COVID-19 summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS), today, campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance are calling on world leaders to go beyond empty promises and deliver bold action to boost the manufacturing of vaccines and increase access around the world.

The Alliance is a coalition of more than 75 organisations around the world campaigning for a people’s vaccine for COVID-19. In a report published by Joint United Nations programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), the Alliance said President Biden’s ambitious goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of the world by this time next year will not be met, given the trickles currently being donated by rich countries.

The Alliance called on Biden and other Summit participants to end existing vaccine monopolies, waive intellectual property rules, mandate the sharing of vaccine technologies and know-how, invest in manufacturing capacity in developing countries as well as in research and development, and reallocate existing vaccine doses as soon as possible.

The Alliance estimates that only 13 per cent of the one billion doses promised by Group of Seven (G7) leaders in June have been delivered so far.

This came as international vaccine initiative, COVAX, announced it is half a billion doses short of meeting even its already low target of enough doses for 23 per cent of people in developing countries. At the same time, the G7 are on track to waste 100 million doses by the end of the year.

The G7 is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, or GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Alliance is calling for a fast-track intensive process to urgently agree a Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with full backing of the United States before November, and for Biden and other world leaders to use every legal and policy tool available to insist pharmaceutical firms work with the WHO COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and the South African mRNA tech transfer hub to build up manufacturing capacity and ramp up production.

The Alliance wants Biden and world leaders to: reach an urgent agreement on a waiver of intellectual property rules ahead of the TRIPS council in October, so that all qualified manufacturers, especially those in developing countries, are able to produce vaccines.

Make legally binding commitments to share vaccine doses immediately, so that the most vulnerable and those working on the frontlines in developing countries are protected, before rich countries give third shots to healthy adults.

Use every power available to make it a requirement for pharmaceutical companies to share technology and know-how with the C-TAP and the mRNA Hub in South Africa and ensure there is enough funding to make the technology transfer happen.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Civil Society Groups (CCSG), yesterday, commended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, for sustaining economic growth and development.

This was contained in an address signed by President of CCSG, Etuk Bassey Williams, and Secretary, Abubakar Ibrahim, at a press conference in Abuja.

According to Williams, the effort of Emefiele and the entire management of the CBN needs to be appreciated by Nigerians for revamping the economy.

He said the tact of Emefiele, amid COVID-19 induced economic challenges, made the economy bounce back faster, compared to other African countries.

He said: “We observe these efforts and consider it pertinent to appreciate their hard work, commitment, dedication and tact employed in the management of the naira, and empowerment of farmers and entrepreneurs towards job and wealth-creation.

“The aim of this activity, today, is to encourage the CBN Governor and his team not to relent but do more and continue to justify the confidence reposed on them by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“There is no doubt that his appointment in 2014, and re-appointment in 2020 was the right judgment. Without equivocation, Emefiele’s contribution to the development and growth of the Nigerian economy, as well as innovations in development financing, earned him Buhari’s nomination for a second term in office as CBN Governor; this singular achievement is by the records the first time anyone had been so nominated since 1999.”