Making Vaccines Accessible

– Akshaye

The Covid 19 pandemic is becoming worse and worse in India everyday as the new 7 day average cases increases to 385, 856. With shortages of beds and ventilators, the best way to move forward is to make sure that we recalibrate our vaccine rollout program to make sure the vaccine is accessible to all including and especially the most vulnerable groups of society. At this moment, there is no doubt that India requires the help of the global community to fight the pandemic. The UK have sent about 1000 ventilators to help while the US have sent raw materials to help in vaccine production.  These initiatives while helpful are not enough to help end the pandemic.

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India and South Africa along with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have proposed an effective solution that would make vaccines more accessible to the global south countries who face severe vaccine shortage. The WTO proposed an idea to waive the Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the vaccines to allow the global south countries to create generic vaccines with the same composition and methodology so that these countries can produce the vaccines by themselves making it accessible to these population groups. As of now while the US government supports the waiving of the IP till the end of the year, there has been no further steps in regards to this. While the global community sees this as a necessity to end the pandemic as soon as possible, pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca are hesitant. While public personalities like Bill Gates and PR teams of these companies cite various reasons like “lack of infrastructure to maintain the quality”, the reality is, the only reason they are against this is because it effects the profitability of the company. According to Bill Gates itself, India has a great vaccine development capabilities. With the Indian industry having an active role in creating two vaccines, it can be concluded has the infrastructure to create factories and producing the generic vaccines at the same standard as produced by Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson.

Waiving IP rights and allowing the global community to produce these vaccines for themselves would help end the pandemic in warp speed, the only way for a pandemic to end is through herd immunity. If 80-90% of a countries populations is vaccinated and immune from the virus, thus eliminating the problem. Developed countries like the US, UK and the western European countries would have a vaccine surplus by the end of their vaccination rollout but the global south countries are facing a vaccine deficit. If there is no global cooperation to eliminate the vaccine simultaneously, there is always a probability of a virus mutant developing that becomes immune from the vaccines sending us back to the start. The global community, especially the developed countries are heavily incentivised as the global economic system goes back to normal and industries devastated by the pandemic can get back to their heights.

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