Week 6: What’s happening in the world of the vaccine?

Launch of New UAEM Mapping Project

On May 18th, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines launched PublicMeds4Covid.Org, a project tracking public investment in research on COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines around the world. The mapping, which was widely shared by scientists and activists alike, will also guide the work of participants in our Salk Labs as they select targets and push for a return on the public’s investment. Check out the mapping, and see if you can find any institutions you have a personal connection to! 

73rd World Health Assembly

On May 18th and 19th, World Health Organization Member States convened over Zoom for the 73rd World Health Assembly. In their statements on the COVID-19 resolution, many countries emphasized the importance of access to diagnostics, vaccines, and treatment, including India, Austria, Algeria, Germany, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Argentina; several argued that the vaccine should be a “global public good.” The resolution, which was adopted by the Assembly, named immunizations as a global public good but unfortunately did not extend that label to vaccines.

On the bright side, the resolution maintained its reference to TRIPS flexibilities, which allow countries to prioritize public health over patent rights—despite the opposition of the United State. In their interventions, civil society groups including Médecins Sans Frontières International, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, and Knowledge Ecology International emphasized the importance of freeing diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines from intellectual property restrictions, and the need for commitment from member states to ensuring access and affordability. For those seeking more information about how international politics played out at the World Health Assembly, this short five-minute audio clip offers a great summary.

COVID-19 Technology Pool

On May 15th, the World Health Organization and Costa Rica announced progress on the development of a technology pool, which we have mentioned in previous newsletters. The technology pool would facilitate the voluntary, nonexclusive licensing of COVID-related intellectual property, accelerating innovation and enabling affordable access around the world. The platform will officially launch on May 29th, at which time governments and institutions will be able to formally announce their public support. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more!

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