With COVID – 19 vaccines now available after trials, the world is under a tussle over the supplies. Meanwhile, the condition in the United States of America is quite different. US is now leading the world in a successful vaccine rollout program. It has large numbers of AstraZeneca vaccine under its disposal which it “might not need”.
Background to the Development
The pandemic situation in the States seems to be improving slowly. But the world is still under threat from the virus. After wreaking havoc in the US the pandemic seems to have shifted its brunt to the other developing nations of the world. The US has a stockpile of 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a name that is still without clearance in the country.
Meanwhile, many EU members and other developing nations are facing a shortage of the vaccine. This sitting on doses has led to worldwide urge for these vaccines to be exported. Many lawmakers wrote to the President of the United States to release these doses to other countries that are in desperate need of supplies.
The Road Ahead to International Cooperation
The US will be sending 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries starting from June 2021. President Biden announced that the US would have sent 10 percent of the doses by July 4th. This sharing would act as a significant humanitarian commitment in addition to the country’s funding of COVAX.
Biden administration plans to have 70% of its adults receive at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by 4th July. Meanwhile, there is growing clamor over the waiver of intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines. The international community is advocating for a temporary waiver from the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. The agreement is meant to protect pharmaceutical trade secrets.
The World Trade Organization is going to access the waiver. Poor countries argue that the TRIPS agreement has effectively given a monopoly to pharma giants on vaccine production. As a result, TRIPS has prevented them from expanding supplies. It remains to be seen whether the USA decides to provide a waiver or not.
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