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Vaccine barriers

The United Nations Children’s Fund is calling for “speed” and “simplicity” to remove barriers to acquisition, manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

“At the current rate, there is simply not enough vaccine supply to meet demand. And the supply available is concentrated in the hands of too few. Some countries have contracted enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times, while other countries have yet to receive even their first dose,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

UNICEF said governments, businesses, and partners should take three urgent actions: simplify Intellectual Property Rights through voluntary and proactive licensing by IPR holders, end vaccine nationalism, and for governments to immediately loan, release, or donate most or all excess contracted doses for 2021 to COVAX so it can be allocated equitably among other countries.

IPR holders, Fore said, would need to provide technology partnerships to accompany IP licenses, and proactively share know-how and subcontract to manufacturers without undue geographic or volume restrictions. Instead of IP waivers, proactive partnership and cooperation can make this possible.

To end vaccine nationalism, governments were urged to remove direct and indirect export and import control measures that block, restrict, or slow down exports of Covid-19 vaccines, ingredients and supplies.

“Viruses respect no borders. Defeating Covid-19 in each of our home countries also means defeating it around the world by ensuring a steady flow of vaccines and supplies to all,” she added.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made clear to us all that no one is safe until everyone is safe. But equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines is within our grasp. We have proven that the world can rally to do the unthinkable, and we need to do it again,” Fore said. “The sooner we do, the sooner our lives, and the lives of our children, will go back to normal.”

The Philippines is one country that knows what Fore speaks of. Its lagging response and delayed vaccination program resulted in it currently experiencing its biggest surge in Covid-19 cases. Our overwhelmed government needs all the help it can get in acquiring as much vaccines as we need ASAP into the country. If the rest of the world heeds the advice of UNICEF, we have a better chance of recovering from this pandemic.*

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