Published On: Wed, Feb 17th, 2021

New WTO boss warns against vaccine nationalism

The newly-appointed head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has told the BBC that vaccine protectionism must be overcome to solve the pandemic.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said “a phenomenon where rich countries are vaccinating their populations and poor countries have to wait” must be avoided.

In recent weeks, several countries have tried to prevent the export of vaccines made within their borders.

But Dr Okonjo-Iweala said protectionism would hinder a global recovery.

“The nature of the pandemic and the mutation of many variants makes this such that no one country can feel safe until every country has taken precautions to vaccinate its population,” she said.

Vaccine boss

Until the end of last year Dr Okonjo-Iweala chaired the global vaccine alliance, GAVI, which aims to increase access to vaccines around the world and she now says the WTO has crucial work to do in this area.

There is an ongoing debate about relaxing WTO rules on intellectual property so that more drug manufacturers can make the jabs. Dr Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged that whilst “some developing countries are asking for waivers, developed countries feel that this might impinge on intellectual property”.

Source:BBC

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