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Why global Covid vaccine roll out requires global governance

By Paul Dennis

19 May

Fabio Ghironi, a professor of economics at the University of Washington (UW), retweeted an article by Nobel laureate economist Michael Spence who believes that Covid-19 has revealed that global governance is not about taking critical decisions unanimously, with every country trying to exercise their veto rights.

Instead, an agency such as the UN is required to declare a global emergency to trigger necessary actions.

Spence believes that although much of the Covid-19 vaccines debate is focused on waivers for intellectual property rights (IPs), technology and knowledge transfer, it is also important to understand whether global vaccine production can be ramped up quickly to have the entire world vaccinated.

Although the US is the only developed nation to support a Covid-19 vaccine waiver as against other Western countries, Spence argues that the pandemic requires it, given the scale of deaths and shortfall of vaccine supplies in most developing countries.

However, he also states that compulsory licensing should be preferred as against waving IP rights as it would minimise adverse effects on future incentives.

He is also of the opinion that mandatory licensing of vaccines could affect the production of other drugs, as proprietary manufacturing technology does not relate to drugs composition alone.

Additionally, transfer of production technology is not necessarily an easy process.

However, with countries reaping the immediate benefits of domestically produced vaccines, it is important to scale up manufacturing capacity in as many countries as possible.

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