Headline, April 30 2021/ ''' '' U.S. & * UP * '' '''

''' '' U.S. & * UP * '' '''


Last July, during the U.S. presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised the universal health care advocate Ady Barkan that he wouldn't let intellectual property laws stand in the way of worldwide access to coronavirus vaccines.

The World Health Organization is leading an unprecedented global effort to promote international cooperation in the search for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines,'' said Barkan.

''But Donald Trump has refused to join that effort, cutting America off from the rest of the world. If the U.S. discovers a vaccine first, will you commit to sharing that technology with other countries and will you ensure that there are no patents to stand in the way of other countries and companies mass producing those lifesaving vaccines?''

Biden was unequivocal. ''It lacks any human dignity, what we're doing,'' he said of Trump's vaccine isolationism.

''So the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And it's not only a good thing to do, it's overwhelmingly in our interest to do.''

Yet now that Biden is in power, his perception of ''our interest'' doesn't seem quite so clear. Last year, India and South Africa requested a waiver from World Trade Organization rules governing intellectual property for technology dealing with the pandemic.

Dozens of mostly developing countries have since joined them. A handful of rich nations, including the  United States, opposed the waiver, but there's a widespread belief that if America changes its position, other countries will follow. Much of the world is waiting to see what President Biden does.

There's an enormous consensus in favor of a waiver. It includes dozens of Nobel Laureates and the former leaders of Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Malawi, New Zealand and many other countries. The Democratic senators have asked Biden to accede to India and South Africa's request.

Most major health and human rights NGOs have joined the campaign for a waiver, including Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International.

''This is I think, one of the first promises broken,'' Asia Russell, the executive director of the Health Global Access project, an international advocacy organization said of the Biden administration's failure to support a waiver, at least so far.

To be fair, this issue is very, very complicated. It's easy enough to dismiss arguments from big pharma that lifting intellectual property protections will still stifle innovation and, given the enormous public subsidies that underlie the creation of the vaccines.

''U.S. taxpayers have invested huge amounts into making this happen,'' said Schakowsky. But other arguments deserve to be taken seriously. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and a vaccine expert, isn't against lifting the waiver, but thinks intellectual property isn't the most important barrier to expanding vaccine access.

''These new technology vaccines are exciting and they're very innovative, but with a brand-new technology, it's difficult to go from ZERO to five billion very quickly,'' he said.

But while a W.T.O. waiver isn't sufficient to solve the vaccine shortage, it would be a start. In a recent letter to activist groups, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweeala, the director-general of W.T.O., acknowledged that there is ''untapped production potential in the developing world. Getting the intellectual property and technology transfer dimension right is clearly critical to unlocking this potential.''

Many of the world's most accomplished health figures believe that a waiver is a first-step in allowing this process to begin.

''Every day we don't put progressive policies in place is a day lost to saving more lives, so many people die,'' said Russell. ''Because you can't flip that switch overnight, you need six months, one year, beyond, to gear this up. It doesn't take forever, by any stretch. But the longer we say it will take too long, it will take much too long.''

Right now, widespread vaccination is freeing many Americans from a year of terror and isolation, even as new waves of the pandemic ravage countries like India and Brazil. Low--and middle-income countries say that a temporary change to global trade rules will help them defend themselves.

Does the Biden administration really want to stand against them?

You can argue that America needs to help vaccinate the world to stem the evolution of new variants or to assert global leadership at a time when Russia and China have been engaged in much more effective vaccine diplomacy.

But the real reason to do everything possible to help countries get the vaccines they need to combat this plague is the one Biden articulated to Ady Barkan last year.

''This is the only humane thing in the world to do,'' Joe Biden said

So he should do it.

The Honor and Serving of Latest Global Operational Research on Opinions and Solutions for the Present and Future of Mankind's Survival, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Michelle Goldberg.

With respectful dedication to President Joe Biden and the great nation of America, Students, Professors and Teachers, and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

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