Global Health News

Developments on pandemic treaty stakeholders’ list, Covid-19 vaccine mRNA patent row and more: Global health newsletter – 1

By Megha Kaveri Puthucode Sreeram   

It is a great time to be a scholar of global health, particularly in Geneva. Amid health emergencies plaguing the world today and the buzz around the health organisations to manage the crises we, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) of the Geneva Graduate Institute, are happy to begin this bi-monthly newsletter. 

The aim of curating this newsletter is to bring our readers up to date with some of the latest developments in the world of global health. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) started negotiations on the pandemic preparedness instrument months ago, with an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) at the centre of all the action. Over the past weeks, there have been criticisms that the process has the potential to be heavily influenced by pharmaceutical business groups. Following this, the WHO recently published a list of stakeholders that includes civil society groups, health rights actors, OneHealth groups and academic institutions. While some have welcomed this inclusion, others have expressed concerns regarding the inclusion and have called it ‘reactive and not proactive’. Read the full story on Health Policy Watch.

Days after Moderna sued Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, over its mRNA technology that forms a major part in the Covid-19 vaccines, Science.org reports that two university scientists had originally patented the technology six years before Moderna. Moderna had initially claimed it will not enforce patent claims on Covid-19 vaccines while the pandemic continues but went ahead to apply for patents in South Africa for its Covid-19 vaccine. This led to fear that the company would block the new mRNA vaccine hub in Africa from producing its own Covid-19 shot, which was intended to close the supply gap of Covid-19 vaccines in the continent and in the global south. As for the newest development around Moderna-Pfizer and the mRNA technology, it is unclear what the way forward would be. 

While we are on vaccine-talk, Switzerland recently approved its first Covid-19 booster vaccine targeted at the Omicron variant. Swissmedic approved Moderna’s Spikevax, which has raised anticipation among the people for a second round of booster shots.  

Three policy proposals intend to reform the pharmaceutical landscape in Europe. Politico Pro reports that a draft intending to modify several aspects of EU pharma regulation “go back to the drawing board”. Proposed changes deal with innovation protection schemes for unmet medical needs; the balance between innovation and financial sustainability of member states’ healthcare systems;  enhancing access to medicines and guaranteeing continuity of supply; and reducing the regulatory burden. Ideas like protection vouchers to combat AMR and increasing transparency on public contributions in R&D costs are considered in this proposal. More on the draft can be found here. 

Last but not the least, it is an ongoing conversation about how to fix national health systems that are broken. Are they beyond redemption or can they all be fixed with terms and conditions? Our team spotted this opinion piece that explores the idea with Australia as the centre.  

We hope you liked our curation of selected news pieces for you. We aim to improve our choices in the coming days. Global Health Initiative is a student initiative at Geneva Graduate Institute where students passionate about global health policy meet and network. For more information about us, check us out on Instagram @graduateinstitute_ghi

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