WHO PQ listing for Remdesivir

A SHORT BLOG: Questions are beginning to emerge as to why WHO proceeded to give a prequalification listing to Remdesivir, when it was aware of the results of its Solidarity Therapeutics trial on the drug’s lack of impact on the treatment for COVID-19. At the bi-weekly presser (on 16.10) last week, WHO’s top officials discussed briefly the independent processes of the prequalification process for Remdesivir (officially announced on the 15th) and the results of the Solidarity trial (highlighted on the 16th.)(See Soumya Swaminathan and Mariangela Simão address this question, half way into the briefing) It is also understood that the results from the Solidarity trial … Continue reading WHO PQ listing for Remdesivir

A peek into COVAX machine

INSIDE COVAX: CONTRACTS & GOVERNANCE A closer look at the model contracts issued by the COVAX Facility and how it will be governed Gavi’s COVAX Facility is gearing into operations mode, from acquiring an approved legal status, to building its governance structure; issuing contracts to participating countries to negotiating deals with vaccine manufacturers; the COVID-19 vaccine machine is here. Contentious issues including liability provisions for participating countries and cost-sharing for vaccines doses for low and middle-income countries continue to hashed out behind the scenes. More than 180 countries are set to have joined the Facility. This story is based on a review … Continue reading A peek into COVAX machine

“Consult us more”: Countries to WHO

COUNTRIES WANT WHO TO CONSULT MORE: EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING Countries praise WHO efforts on addressing the pandemic, but want more consultation A number of countries called on WHO for greater consultations on the decisions around the response to the pandemic at the Special Executive Board [EB] meeting earlier this week. From demands on consultations on the allocation framework that will determine access to COVID-19 health products, to the governance structure of the Gavi-led COVAX Facility, countries seemed to suggest that they have been left out of these consultation processes. To be sure, in a repeat of the World Health Assembly in May 2020, countries … Continue reading “Consult us more”: Countries to WHO

German-French Proposal For WHO Could Skew Balance Of Power In Donors’ Favor

The reform proposal led by Germany and France to strengthen WHO’s emergencies response and bolster global health security, could result in a balance of power tilting in favour of donor countries, diplomatic sources in Geneva say. Questions are being raised on whether the proposal truly seeks to empower WHO, or if it is also an attempt to fill the leadership vacuum caused by the retreat of the U.S. from the multilateral institution.   The proposal, being perceived in some quarters, as a genuine effort to strengthen multilateralism in global health, may be focusing too much on global health security; and risks … Continue reading German-French Proposal For WHO Could Skew Balance Of Power In Donors’ Favor

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“Policy Coherence” in the pandemic?

What the trilateral report on public health, IP and trade, says on the pandemic? A range of policy options drawn from different disciplines, is shaping the response to the pandemic, particularly in making medical products more accessible. From the use of flexibilities in copyrights for text and data mining to help drug discovery, to the use of competition policy to improve access to testing; from temporarily relaxing procurement rules, to easing regulatory processes; among many others. Many may lament that the pandemic is yet to witness any meaningful sharing of information and technologies. And yet, these limitations are in part … Continue reading “Policy Coherence” in the pandemic?

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WHO on the checks & balances for COVID-19 vaccines

As Russia approves a vaccine to fight against SARS-Cov-2, it is useful to note what global authorities, including WHO have said about the checks and balances in vaccine development in the context of COVID-19. Here is what Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist has had to say about the processes around vaccine development in a recent conversation online. This was first broadcast by WHO on July 24, 2020, as an interaction on social media, moderated by Dr Margaret Harris. The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity. [There have been developments since, see Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate … Continue reading WHO on the checks & balances for COVID-19 vaccines

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Trade in the time of the pandemic

THE TRADE IN MEDICAL PRODUCTS: THE STATE OF PLAY With every passing week in the prevailing pandemic, there is an urgency to understand and provide for the access to medical products and services. But what constitutes the trade in these crucial products? Who sells, who buys, how does it flow and what happens if it doesn’t? Geneva Health Files looks closely at the story of international trade that makes available medicines and medical services within existing constraints. The pandemic has shown how the restrictions in these pathways, puts the most vulnerable communities at risk of lacking access to both. The … Continue reading Trade in the time of the pandemic

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Giving in to supply constraints: WHO’s Allocation Plan

New Details on WHO’s Draft Allocation Framework – A Deep Dive With more than 13 million cases of COVID19 in mid-July 2020, and rising, WHO has an unenviable and difficult task at hand, to map and decide who gets vaccines and medicines first. As expected, as it works its way on devising an allocation framework (first reported here), it is inevitably having to wrestle with politically contentious decisions in the backdrop of rising vaccine nationalism and countries striking up bilateral deals with drug companies. It will have to decide, and soon, if it will tackle head on – the elephant … Continue reading Giving in to supply constraints: WHO’s Allocation Plan

Timeline: WHO’s COVID-19 response

WHO has published a handy timeline on its response to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020. It says that the timeline is not exhaustive, but the webpage is a ready reckoner of the myriad activities that constitute WHO’s response to the pandemic. Press briefings: More than 70 media briefings as on June 29, 2020. WHO DG’s opening remarks, transcripts, videos and audio recordings for these media briefings have been filed on its website. WHO says there have been 23 Member State Briefings and information sessions. EPI-WIN, WHO’s information network for epidemics, has convened 60 technical webinars, the technical agency says. … Continue reading Timeline: WHO’s COVID-19 response

Public health & tobacco plain packaging: Q&A with Benn McGrady, WHO

Q&A with Benn McGrady, Technical Officer (Legal), Public Health Law and Policies, Health Promotion (HPR) at World Health Organization. Geneva Health Files reached out to Benn McGrady, a health law expert. He speaks about what the recent WTO Appellate Body ruling on tobacco plain packaging, means for public health. McGrady an expert on the matter, is the author of the book Trade and Public Health: The WTO, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Diet , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. The following are his responses to queries sent on email. 1. The significance of the ruling for public health and non-communicable diseases in … Continue reading Public health & tobacco plain packaging: Q&A with Benn McGrady, WHO