WTO urges rich countries to donate more Covid-19 vaccine doses

The World Trade Organization Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called on G-20 leaders to “do more,” from donating more coronavirus vaccines to removing trade barriers that currently jam the vaccine supply chain.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Paris Peace Forum and ONCE Campaign, Dr Ngozi said: “We need the G-20 to donate more doses right away. As they plan to meet next weekend, it would be good if they came with a figure, about two, three billion more doses.”

She added that the G-20 should share the doses under COVAX, the global Covid-19 vaccine procurement mechanism to achieve “not vaccine diplomacy, but an equitable allocation of these vaccines to the most vulnerable places where they are needed.”

The WTO chief hopes to meet with vaccine makers on July 21 to track how they are stepping up vaccine production and “where they are making investments to see how fast” the production can get.

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While the goal this year, according to a proposal put forward by the International Monetary Fund in May, is to vaccinate at least 40 per cent of the population in all countries by December, the WTO chief said they need to make sure that investments are now moving to reach the target of vaccinating 60 per cent of the population by June, next year.

“My immediate priority is to monitor that and see whether all the capacity that is available in emerging markets and developing countries is being used. We have manufacturers in Bangladesh, Pakistan, in Argentina and other places, saying that they also have the capacity to do more, but whether that is being used, we have to see,” she said.

The WTO chief also hopes to get negotiations moving on the issue of technology transfers and intellectual property, which have been ongoing since last year as countries debate whether to waive IP on COVID-19 technologies during the pandemic.

“We expect discussions at the WTO would move fast so that by July we have some kind of sensible answer that can help us then with the transfer of technology and a good outcome on the IP issue.”

She also called on the G-20 to remove trade restrictions, which impact vaccine production.

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