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World Bank opposes vaccine intellectual property waiver as WTO talks resume

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World Bank President David Malpass said on Tuesday the bank doesn’t support deferring intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization out of concern that it would hamper innovation in the pharmaceuticals sector.

His comments on the subject, made during a call with reporters on World Bank economic forecasts, came as WTO negotiations over the proposed waiver resumed in Geneva.

Asked whether he backs a WTO vaccine IP waiver, which India, South Africa and other developing market countries contend is needed to expand vaccine access, Malpass said: “We don’t support that, for the reason that it would run the risk of reducing the innovation and the R&D in that sector.”

The comment puts Malpass, a Trump administration nominee, at chances with the Biden administration, which is supporting text-based WTO negotiations for vaccine intellectual property rights, led by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Significant vaccine producers and the pharmaceutical industries have opposed the waiver from the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), contending that it would stifle innovation and do little to effectively increase vaccine supplies constrained by trade barriers, shortages of components and a lack of manufacturing capabilities.

The World Bank said its global growth forecasts, raised to 5.6% for 2021 and 4.3% for 2022, could be higher if vaccinations can be accelerated in developing countries.

In Geneva, negotiations were proceeding on Tuesday and Wednesday over revised waiver proposals from India and South Africa that remained far broader than the narrow vaccine-only waiver favored by USTR Tai.

“It is by all accounts they are still far apart. Their positions have not fundamentally changed,” a Geneva-based trade official told Reuters.

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Covid-19 Delta variant cases jump by 33,630 of every multi week in UK, now make up 99% of country’s cases

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The number of Delta variant infections has jumped by 33,630 in seven days to hit a total of 75,953 in the UK, with the highly transmissible variant first identified in India now making up 99 per cent of all Covid-19 cases in the country, health officials said on Friday.

Public Health England (PHE), which has been tracking variant of concerns (VOCs) on a weekly basis, said its data shows an increased risk of hospitalization with Delta VOC compared to Alpha the VOC first detected in the Kent region of England.

It also pointed to its previous discoveries that two portions of a Covid vaccine gives a “high degree of protection” against hospitalization from the Delta variant.

“PHE’s weekly Covid-19 variant cases data show that numbers of the Delta variant in the UK have ascended by 33,630 since last week to a total of 75,953,” PHE reports.

INCREASED RISK OF Hospitalization

“The most recent data show 99 per cent of sequenced and genotyped cases across the country are the Delta variant. Data show an increased risk of hospitalization with Delta compared to Alpha, although PHE’s analysis shows that two dosages of vaccine gives a high degree of protection against hospitalization, estimated to be more than 90 per cent,” it said.

According to the analysis, as of June 14, a total of 806 people have been hospitalized with the Delta variant, an increase of 423 since last week. Of these, 527 were unvaccinated, and only 84 of the 806 had received both portions.

It finds that deaths are not high, as the case fatality rate remains low for Delta.

Notwithstanding, it points out that deaths tend to happen some weeks after an infection and it is therefore too ahead of schedule to judge the case fatality of Delta compared to Alpha or other VOCs.

“DON’T DROP YOUR GUARD”

“Cases are rising quickly across the country and the Delta variant is now dominant,” said Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency.

“The increase is fundamentally in younger age groups, a large proportion of which were unvaccinated but are now being invited to receive the vaccine. It is urging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not increasing at a similar rate but we will continue to monitor it closely,” she said.

“The vaccination program and the care that we are generally taking to follow the direction are continuing to save lives. If it’s not too much trouble, ensure that you approach to receive both portions of the vaccine when you are eligible. Don’t drop your gatekeeper practice ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times,” she added.

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Israel says it will transfer around 1 million dosages of soon-to-expire coronavirus vaccine portions to the Palestinian Authority.

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Under the agreement announced Friday, the PA will transfer portions to Israel once it receives them from an UN-backed program to supply vaccines to needy countries.

Israel, which has vaccinated some 85 per cent of its adult population, has faced criticism for not imparting its vaccines to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The agreement was announced by the new Israeli government that was sworn in on Sunday.

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Global failure to share vaccines equitably impacting world’s most vulnerable countries: WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that “global failure to share vaccines equitably” is fuelling a “two-track” Covid-19 pandemic, impacting some of world’s most vulnerable countries.

Taking up the issue of global disparities in distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, WHO said that countries like India and Nepal have suffered because of less dosages of the vaccine.

“Our global targets are to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the population of every country by September, at least 40 per cent by the end of the year, and 70 per cent by the center of next year. These are the critical milestones we must reach together to end the Covid-19 pandemic,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He went on to say that more than half of all high upper-center pay countries and economies have by now administered enough dosages to completely vaccinate at least 20 per cent of their populations, while just three out of 79 low-and lower-center pay countries have reached a similar level.

Earlier this week, the Group of Seven leaders (G-7) intend to end their first summit in two years with a punchy set of promises Sunday, including vaccinating the world against coronavirus.

The G-7 vowed to share vaccine dosages with less well-off nations that urgently need them. UK PM Boris Johnson said the group would pledge at least 1 billion dosages, with half of that coming from the United States and 100 million from Britain.

While WHO Director-General Tedros commended the vaccine pledge, he also said that it was “not enough”.

To truly end the pandemic, he said, 11 billion dosages are needed to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world’s population by mid-2022.

“We need more and we need them faster,” Tedros said.

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