NewsWTO warns of vaccine lag in Latin America and...

WTO warns of vaccine lag in Latin America and Africa

The economic recovery for all countries can only happen by expanding vaccination, the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned this Saturday at the G7 summit, which warned of the risk that Latin America and Africa will be left behind after the pandemic.

The Director General of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, pointed out that the economic recovery projections point to two paths that are increasingly diverging: developed countries, where vaccination is progressing at a good pace, and the majority of low-income countries, which in many cases they have not even started receiving doses.

“For the economy to recover we have to administer injections to the people and that is what will allow to stimulate growth,” said the Nigerian in a virtual meeting with journalists on the margins of the G7 summit in Cornwall (south-west England).

“We see that Latin America and Africa, in particular, are lagging behind,” warned the head of the WTO, while comparing that trajectory with the upward line marked by the United States and Asia.

These differences are closely linked to inequality in access to COVID-19 preparations, said Okonjo-Iweala, who considered that “vaccine policy is commercial policy.”

The multilateral organization sees a “robust” reactivation of the world market, which will be around 8% this year and will remain at 4% the next.

One of the main missions of the G7 Cornwall summit is to lay the foundations for a “fair and uniform” economic recovery, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his opening speech.

The WTO is hopeful that a global agreement will be reached so that developing countries have greater access to vaccines, despite the fact that its members are very divided on whether this should be accompanied by a temporary suspension of patents.

In that sense, Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the progress made this week between the WTO countries, which agreed to start negotiations on a text in order to increase access to anticovid tools, including a possible suspension of the patents.

The 164 members of the body were open to negotiating ways to make vaccines, therapies and other technologies against COVID-19 more accessible, despite the fact that there are still differences in this regard, mainly between developing countries and European nations.

Despite the fact that the Director General of the WTO preferred not to comment on whether she supports the suspension of patents, in order to be free to mediate between the parties, she was hopeful that negotiations would progress ahead of the ministerial meeting of the organization scheduled to July.

“It can be difficult because some positions are far apart, but there is a way and I would like to see some kind of progress by July,” he said.

While he welcomed the intention of the G7 countries to commit to donating one billion doses to developing countries, he urged that “$ 50 billion (41 billion euros) is needed to accelerate the deployment of vaccination.”

With these resources, he considered that 40% of the world’s population would have been vaccinated at the end of this year and 60% at the end of next year.

Despite everything, he asked that the debate not be reduced only to the suspension of patents on vaccines, but also encompasses other issues, such as export restrictions, which complicate the supply chain, vital to producing the preparations.

Each vaccine approved so far against covid requires a multitude of components that are produced in different countries.

He gave the example of Pfizer’s vaccine, which contains 180 ingredients, manufactured at 86 locations in 19 countries.

“That shows how complicated and sophisticated supply chains are, and you have to ensure that export restrictions are kept to a minimum,” Okonjo-Iweala said before recalling that the WTO currently counts 53 such measures. , an improvement over the 109 at the beginning of the pandemic.

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