Covid-19 treatments should not go to the highest bidder

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates said it is important that Covid-19 treatments and vaccines go where they are needed most, not just the highest.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said it is important that Covid-19 treatments and vaccines go where they are needed most, not just the highest.
Photo: Jack Taylor (Getty Images)

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, billionaire, said good and good thing on Saturday. Gates called on leaders to ensure that future medicines and vaccines reach the people and countries who need them most, not just the most expensive.

Talking to a covid-19 virtual conference organized by the International AIDS Society, Gates highlighted a growing concern among international governments and public health officials: once there are drugs and vaccines, who will get them first? According to Gates, it is important to consider not only who can pay for these treatments, but also who and where they are most needed.

“If we let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder rather than the people and places where they are most needed, we will have a longer, more unfair and more deadly pandemic,” said Gates. “We need leaders to make these difficult decisions about distribution based on equity, not just market factors.”

There is no doubt that Gates’ comments are the right thing and the right thing to say and do. However, it should also be noted that it is ironic that he is the one speaking on this issue, given Microsoft’s story to use its market power to crush competitors. However, apparently using power and money to move forward is a very bad thing. How practical.

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Aside from the hypocrisy of Gates, ensuring that the poorest countries and people have access to future vaccines and medicines seems to be the decent thing to do when faced with a global public health emergency, but it is unfortunately not clear that this will happen once scientists have developed effective treatments.

At the end of June, for example, the United States bought almost all the stock remdesivir – one of the few drugs known to be effective in the treatment of covid-19 – for the next three months. Leaving little for the rest of the world.

“President Trump has concluded an incredible agreement to guarantee Americans access to the first authorized treatment for COVID-19,” said the secretary of health and social services. Alex Azar said. “Whenever possible, we want to make sure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump Administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapies for covid-19 and to secure access to these options for the American people. “

Given the apparent lack of US interest in distributing a future coronavirus vaccine fairly, many world leaders fear that the president world wrestling for the vaccine. Such a struggle would leave poor countries behind. China, which has a large number of potential Covid-19 vaccines in development, is also a concern.

Although Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that vaccines developed in China would be a “global public good”, a June government white paper said the vaccine would be a global public product “once developed and deployed in China”. according to the Los Angeles Times.

The World Health Organization is working on a proposed global allocation framework for covid-19 products. A June Briefing The proposal is that given the ubiquitous nature of covid-19, all countries should receive an initial allocation as products become available.

“Finally, the prioritization of geography and timing would be based on a risk assessment of the vulnerability of countries and the Covid-19 threat,” said the document.

In this context, WHO has defined “vulnerability” as the vulnerability of countries’ health systems and demographic factors. The “threat”, on the other hand, refers to the potential impact of covid-19 on countries.

Conclusion: this is an easy debate. In no case should economically disadvantaged people and countries have zero access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, or be forced to go to the bottom of the line, simply because wealthy countries have the capacity to pay for them. It would be immoral.

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