DNDi participated in the 58th meeting of the PAHO Directing Council of PAHO. Together with other non-state actors, our Policy Advocacy Adviser, Francisco Viegas, made the following intervention.
Point 4.2: COVID-19 Pandemic in the Region of the Americas - CD58/6
Countries in the region, without exception, have faced challenges to access health technologies for COVID-19 response. Increased demand, limited manufacturing capacity, monopolies and high prices, among other factors, have influenced access barriers. Actions need to be taken to avoid the same situation for new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
The resolution in discussion highlights important topics, but additional points should be strengthened to enable these technologies to be equitably distributed as global public goods.
R&D efforts for vaccines and therapeutics need to be less fragmented, clinical trials well designed, sizeable and comparative with protocols and results, both positive and negative, openly shared, in order to provide decisive guidance to clinicians and to policy makers on which technologies should be the focus of access efforts.
Member States need to ensure sufficient production, equitable allocation, affordable, and non-discriminatory pricing. This includes actively engaging in global discussions on the ACT-A and the Equitable Access and Allocation Framework being developed by the WHO, as well as ensuring that vulnerable populations are prioritized. To enable this, increasing existing limited production capacity will not be enough. Additional sources of production will need to be created and innovative regulatory pathways developed to enable vaccines and therapeutics to reach all countries in the region.
Given the magnitude of COVID-19, we do not have time for drawn-out closed-door negotiations. Governments need to require that technology owners globally license their intellectual property, including through CTAP, and should also make use of TRIPS flexibilities, including compulsory licenses, in order to expand production for regional supply.
The pricing of these tools must also be as close as possible to their cost price, to make them affordable for health systems, including through pooled procurement approaches, and free to those most in need. Transparency of R&D costs, agreements and investments are important to ensure accountability and public trust. This information should also be shared with PRIAS and WHO's R&D Observatory.
Now is the time for joint actions to ensure that medicines, diagnostics, vaccines, and other health technologies related to COVID-19 are available as global public goods.
This unique challenge for humanity is the time to diminish access inequities in the region.