Back of the Queue

Waiving Covid-19 vaccine patent would speed up production, says Afreximbank’s Fofack

By David Whitehouse

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Posted on March 1, 2021 16:42

A health worker receives a dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Dakar
Coronavirus vaccination in Dakar, Senegal February 24, 2021. REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank) chief economist Hippolyte Fofack supports a proposal from India and South Africa to waive patents on Covid-19 vaccines to make it easier to produce them in developing countries.

“The gap between developed and developing countries is determining access to vaccines,” Fofack tells The Africa Report. “If it’s left to the market, Africa will be at the back of the queue. That is what we are witnessing now.”

The proposal put to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) seeks exemption for member countries from the enforcement of patents under the agreements on trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs). The idea has broad support among low- and middle-income countries, but rich states are able to block adoption at the WTO: the US, the UK, the European Union and Canada.

The proposal would allow for the decentralisation of production and reduce the cost of logistics as well as the amount of refrigeration needed, says Fofack. He notes that Pakistan has put aside its historical differences with India to support the idea. A V-shaped global economic recovery is possible

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