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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

COVID19 Tech Platform – Countries pass up opportunity for a binding mechanism to ensure equitable access to meds

New text on WHO’s call to action on the COVID19 tech platform Member states of World Health Organization are letting go of an opportunity to enforce binding mechanisms on sharing and pooling technology related to fighting COVID19 that would ensure equitable, affordable access to medicines, diagnostics and technologies. At the best of times, treaty-making is an uphill task, if not impossible, amongst more than 190 countries, but the pandemic could have been the imperative for countries to come together to challenge the status quo on the contentious and high-stakes game of access of medicines.  WHO is set to announce on … Continue reading COVID19 Tech Platform – Countries pass up opportunity for a binding mechanism to ensure equitable access to meds