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[Report] Health experts push for global vaccine equity to end pandemic

Experts believe that the first step towards a humane COVID-19 vaccination program begins with equal access to vaccines.

Mga tao sa kalsada na nakasuot ng winter jacket at mask.

Ang mga tao suot ang face masks sa Toronto noong Martes.

Photo:  CBC / Evan Mitsui

RCI

Experts have called on the Canadian government to adopt legislation and policies to promote global vaccine equity and combat the risk of a new variant emerging.

A year has passed since Joyce Mattinson, 41, and her husband tested positive for COVID-19.

I didn’t have cough or difficulty breathing. I lost my sense of taste and smell. My body ached and I was shaking, Mattinson said.

joyce

Mattinson and her husband tested positive for COVID-19, so they were forced to stay home in January 2021. PHOTO: GRACIEUSETÉ.

Photo: Gracieuseté

He was isolated for two weeks until he finally recovered. Mattinson could not fully imagine that the pandemic would not end until now.

Cases have swelled with the proliferation of infractions from the Omicron variant.

There have been over one million recorded cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since the start of the pandemic. More than 980,000 have been resolved, but 4,097 new cases were recorded on Friday.

After recovering, Mattinson decided to get vaccinated.

Mattinson is one of 11.7 million people in Ontario, or 84% of all eligible age groups, who are now vaccinated.

The number of recorded new COVID-19 cases in the province has been declining since January 26. However, according to the Ontario Dashboard for COVID-19, the 7-day average for new cases is still at 3,791.

In an interview with Radio Canada International, Dr. Saverio Stranges said this was due to the Omicron variant, a result of the vaccine equity problem.

Dr. Stranges

Dr. Saverio Stranges is currently Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics within the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University. PHOTO: RCI

Photo: RCI

Vaccine equity (new window) refers to the distribution of vaccine to all countries based on need, regardless of whether they are low-income or high-income nations.

What we’re seeing in Ontario is clearly Omicron’s impact, as is the case in Europe and in low-income countries. Sadly, this new variant has developed in countries in Africa with low vaccination rates. We’re very much in danger of a new variant emerging, said Dr. Stranges.

Studies have shown that vaccines help the human body fight the virus, prevent hospitalizations and reduce the risk of dying from the disease.

I believe this additional wave is a testament to the importance of global vaccination. We hope that by the time most of the world’s population is vaccinated, it will be an endemic disease as common as the flu. And with the help of the vaccine, the risk of being hospitalized and getting infected is greatly reduced. So, COVID will no longer be a public health emergency, Dr. Stranges said in an interview with Radio Canada International (RCI).

In an editorial published in the International Journal of Public Health (new window) Shezad Ali, Michael Clarke, Dr. Michael Silverman and Dr. Saverio Stranges called for legislation to speed up vaccine production and create a mechanism to ensure that low-income countries have access to vaccines.

The first step towards a fair COVID-19 vaccination program is access to vaccines. Although actual global supply of vaccines may not be a limiting factor in achieving equity, the unequal (and inequitable) distribution of vaccines is clearly a formidable barrier for low- and middle-income countries, the editorial indicates.

grapEnlarge image (new window)

Ipinapakita na malaki ang agwat sa access sa bakuna sa mahihirap na bansa 1:9 kumpara sa mayayamang bansa 2:3 batay sa grap ng WHO.

Photo: Screenshot mula sa WHO site

Sa Global Dashboard on Vaccine Equity ng World Health Organization nitong Pebrero 2 lumalabas na 67.92% o 2 sa bawat 3 katao sa mayayamang bansa ay nakakatanggap ng 'di bababa sa isang bakuna kumpara sa 11.67% o 1 sa bawat 9 katao sa mga bansang mahihirap.

Ibig sabihin ang pagkakaantala sa vaccination rollout sa low at middle-income na mga bansa ay naglalagay sa kanila sa peligro ng COVID-19 variants, bagong pagtaas sa pagkahawa sa virus at mabagal na pagrekober mula sa krisis.

Kaya ayon sa grupo ni Dr. Stranges, mahalaga ang panawagan na i-waive ang intellectual property rights na magbibigay daan para sa COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers na pahintulutan ang ibang pharmaceutical companies na makagawa ng generic na bakuna mula sa patented vaccine sa mas mababang halaga.

Ang pormal na mekanismo para suspendihin ang patent protection sa mga gamot sa pangyayari tulad ng national or global emergency kasama ang pag-isyu ng intellectual propertyintellectual property waiver ay nakalagay sa exceptions clause ng Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement sa ilalim ng tinatawag na Doha declaration bilang tugon sa pambansang banta sa public health sa mga mahihirap na bansa. Isang hiwalay na mekanismo ang pagpapahintulot para sa pag-isyu ng compulsory licenses at para makagawa ng generic mula sa patented na gamot, saad ng grupo.

Kaugnay na ulat

Ang Canada Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) na naipasa noong 2006 ay batas sa Canada para makapag-isyu ng isang compulsory license.

Noong 2012, tinangka sa pamamagitan ng Bill C-398 na amyendahan ang Patent Act para mapabilis ang paggawa at pag-export ng gamot sa panahon na may problema sa pampublikong kalusugan pero natalo ito sa botohan.

Panukala sa grupo ni Dr. Stranges na isang pangmatagalan na mekanismo ang maipasa ang Bill C-398 na makakatulong sa global vaccination equity.

Sa tulong nito ay mapaghahandaan umano ang anumang darating pa na public health emergencies sa hinaharap.

Para tunay na makapaghanda sa susunod na pandemya, nananawagan kami sa mga bansa, lalo na sa Canada, na may kakayahan at planong mag-manufacture ng bakuna na galangin ang prinsipyo ng Doha declaration at gumawa ng batas na nagbibigay ng compulsory licenses o kaya ay intellectual propertyintellectual property waivers para sa mabilis na pagpapalaki sa produksyon at pamamahagi ng mga bakuna bilang paghahanda sa susunod na global pandemic na hindi maiiwasan, pakiusap ni Dr. Stranges.

Rodge Cultura

This report by our reporter Rodge Culturahas been translated from Tagalog to English.

Posted: February 4, 2022

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