The latest Covid variant and blocking vaccines to South Africa.
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Last year we stayed home for Thanksgiving what with Covid and all.
The menu was traditional but it was just the two of us.
This year we were still not ready for holiday air travel. Instead we did a road trip to the east coast to be with some family.
It is becoming nearly impossible for all parts of the family to be together under any circumstances, let alone when the plague still is out there.
But we had eight, all fully vaccinated and we all took rapid tests before leaving home.
The news this morning though is that a new variant has emerged.
Not much is known about it and there is confusion over where it originated.
One report I read said Belgium.
Another South Africa.
The immediate response on the part of some countries in the global north were to stop entry from those coming from South Africa.
Which begs the question: Where were they when the need to get get vaccines and, more importantly vaccine production, TO South Africa and TO the rest of the global south.
After the first effective vaccines were released The World Trade Organization (WTO) held talks on a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily suspend intellectual property (IP) rules related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Any suspension of IP rules hit a roadblock after wealthy countries balked at it.
The two developing countries say the IP waiver would have allowed drugmakers in poor countries to start production of effective vaccines sooner, vaccinating millions more.
It has been known for a long time that without global vaccinations and and end to the monopolization of production, new variants, possibly more deadly and vaccine resistant, were likely.
India and South Africa had approached the global trade body in October, calling on it to waive parts of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).
The suspension of rights such as patents would ensure "timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines or to scaling-up of research, development, manufacturing and supply of medical products essential to combat COVID-19," they said.
The proposal was vehemently opposed by wealthy nations like the US and Britain as well as the European Union, who said that a ban would stifle innovation at pharmaceutical companies by robbing them of the incentive to make huge profits.
"We have to recognize that this virus knows no boundaries, it travels around the globe and the response to it should also be global. It should be based on international solidarity," said Ellen 't Hoen, the director of Medicines Law & Policy — a nonprofit campaigning for greater access to medicines.
"Many of the large-scale vaccine manufacturers are based in developing countries. All the production capacity that exists should be exploited…and that does require the sharing of knowhow and the technology by those who have it in their hands," she told German television.
According to The Daily Poster, reporting more recently:
Biden broke with his own legislative record and pledged to support relaxing those intellectual property rules to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, saying it “is the only humane thing in the world to do.” With the pandemic creating a full-fledged humanitarian crisis in India this spring, Biden’s administration on Wednesday issued a statement reiterating that general promise.
Now that there may be a new dangerous variant coming our way I have to wonder if once again Joe Biden and the other countries of the wealthy global north are acting too little and too late.