Progressive International for Covid-19 vaccine internationalism begins on Friday

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  A four-day summit by Progressive International for Covid-19 vaccine internationalism begins on Friday. It aims at ending “the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing vaccines for all”. The summit will bring together Global South governments, politicians, healthcare workers and vaccine manufacturers from over 20 countries, following criticism of the G7’s plan by the United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock as “not serious” and lacking “necessary urgency.”

From India, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with former health minister of the state, KK Shailaja, representatives of ASHA workers  and vaccine maker Virchow Laboratories, which has a presence in over 100 countries, are participating in the summit. Vijayan is expected to tell the summit that public manufacturing capacity in the state, which has been hailed for its handling of the pandemic, stands ready to produce vaccines if it receives necessary transfers of technology.

With only 6.2% of the world population fully vaccinated and at the current rate, low-income countries waiting 57 years to be fully vaccinated the summit’s participants have pledged to seek speeding up of production, distribution, and delivery of vaccines. Participants are also likely to consider concrete proposals to pool technology, invoke patent waivers and invest in rapid production.

Representatives from the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and the Kenyan county of Kisumu are set to be joined by four vaccine manufacturers. These include Fiocruz, the Brazilian manufacturer leading the nation’s vaccination drive, Virchow Laboratories, Biolyse, a Canadian firm seeking voluntary or compulsory licensing agreements, and BioFarmaCuba, Cuba’s state manufacturer.

Senior political leaders from around the world, including former leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, leader of the Colombian opposition Gustavo Petro and representatives from healthcare unions from the US, Brazil and India will take part in the meet.The governments meeting at the summit will discuss a number of proposals which will include platform for sharing ongoing progress with candidates, trial protocols and data setting the stage for real transparency and allowing local manufacturers to produce the critical doses.

Sharing manufacturing capacity and investing in public industry, equipping factories to produce the vaccines required for domestic and Global South needs are on the discussion agenda. Summit coordinator and Progressive International cabinet member Varsha Gandikota-Nellutla said before the opening of the meet: “We have the capacity to end this pandemic, producing and distributing vaccines for all.”