Drugmakers propose rapid response to pandemic to benefit poorest countries


Cool boxes are airlifted to Schiphol Airport as Air France-KLM cargo operations prepare for a massive logistics operation transporting new vaccines and vaccine candidates for COVID-19 via Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Country -Bas November 25, 2020. Picture taken November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

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FRANKFURT, May 22 (Reuters) – Global drugmakers are pushing for rich countries to fund a procurement mechanism that would guarantee vaccines for low-income countries without delay in the event of a new pandemic, but said the proposal was contingent on cross-border free trade.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) said in a statement on Monday that the global distribution of pandemic vaccines needed to be put back on a new footing as the world’s poorest countries were forced to wait for vaccines for the current pandemic.

“Industry is willing to reserve real-time production allocation for distribution to priority populations in low-income countries, as determined by health authorities during pandemics,” said IFPMA Chief Executive Thomas Cueni. .

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The global debate on a better response to epidemics is in full swing as health ministers gather in Geneva this week for the World Health Organization assembly, with vaccine sharing among the many items on the agenda. agenda. Read more

Separately, the G20 group of nations agreed on a multi-billion dollar pandemic preparedness fund to be set up outside the WHO.

Cueni added that the procurement mechanism required funding from high-income countries and could only work if materials and finished goods could be shipped without barriers within a globalized supply chain.

“We are committed to working with governments and all stakeholders to help ensure that preparedness systems are put in place and sustained in the future,” Cueni said.

Trade barriers posed a big headache during the COVID-19 pandemic, now in its third year. Among the hurdles, India’s top producer has banned vaccine exports for much of 2021, while the US Defense Production Act, which prioritizes domestic crisis response, has slowed global delivery of vaccines. equipment for vaccine manufacturers. Read more

The COVAX Vaccine Sharing Center was set up to secure distribution in poorer countries, but it was overtaken by faster supply efforts from wealthier countries, leaving other countries behind.

“COVAX has not been sufficiently funded or organized fast enough to secure advance dose purchase agreements on par with buyers in high-income countries,” said advocacy group IFPMA.

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Reporting by Ludwig Burger Editing by Chris Reese

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