دبلوماسية

Covid-19: Rich states ‘block’ vaccine plans for developing nations

Wealthy countries – including the UK – are blocking proposals to help developing nations increase their vaccine manufacturing capabilities, documents leaked to BBC Newsnight show.

Several poorer countries have asked the World Health Organization to help them.

But richer nations are pushing back on provisions in international law that would enable them to achieve this.

This is according to a leaked copy of the negotiating text of a WHO resolution on the issue.

Among those richer nations are the UK, the US, as well as the European Union.

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“Where we could have language in there that would make it easier for countries to produce more vaccines and more medicines within their country, it would include initiatives that would finance and facilitate that. The UK is on the opposite side of the argument of trying to remove those kinds of progressive proposals from the text,” says Diarmaid McDonald, from Just Treatment, a patient group for fair access to medicines.

A spokesperson for the UK government says “a global pandemic requires a global solution and the UK is leading from the front, driving forward efforts to ensure equitable access around the world to Covid vaccines and treatments”.

The spokesperson says the UK is one of the largest donors to international efforts to ensure over one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines get to developing countries this year.

If and when governments should intervene to ensure affordable supplies of medicines is a long-standing issue.

But the ability of different countries to source vaccines and drugs has been highlighted by the pandemic.

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