Concern for humanity clear at Rome health summit – News
There are many causes for a united front, but the pandemic has made it more than a slogan.
As it “flattens the curve again”, fighting a deadly third wave in the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy was indeed the suitable host for the 2021 World Health Summit in Rome last Friday as the executives, the pharmaceutical industry and experts from around the world. gathered to share their thoughts, resolution and action plans on global health.
President of the G20 this year, Italy joined the European Commission to host the event which culminated with the signing of the Rome Declaration, which promises multilateral support for the preparedness, prevention, detection and response to the current Covid-19 pandemic, as well as funding for concerted global response efforts.
As part of the declaration, wealthy nations and big drugmakers pledged to do more to bridge the gap between means to tackle Covid-19 through increased flow of vaccines to poorer regions, a crucial initiative into the battle as it becomes quite clear that this is a shared global struggle.
There are many causes for a united front, but the pandemic has made it more than a slogan. The effort demands unity, like perhaps no other problem humanity has faced since the wars of the twentieth century. Without full vaccination around the world, the virus will continue to spread and mutate, to be reintroduced and revisit populations again and again. Increasingly recognizing the urgency of this shared future, executives and production managers might be a little behind in a global initiative, but they are now accepting the need for a global effort.
To date, some 1.53 billion doses have been administered, but the vast majority have been in developed and richer countries.
“We must bow our heads in shame,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the Rome summit. “We are in a global war against a pandemic. When you are at war and you are all allies, you must use all your weapons without hiding behind profit at the expense of life.
In response, major pharmaceutical companies pledged at the summit to provide more Covid-19 vaccines at not-for-profit prices, while several G20 countries pledged additional funding for ACT-Accelerator supported by WHO and its Covax basic vaccine program. They also pledged to ship more doses of the vaccine to low- and middle-income countries.
These promises must be delivered with swift and firm action on the ground and with transport planes in the air – it is clear that the only measure that will finally stop the pandemic is vaccination. Even countries that locked down and halted the initial spread are now seeing infections on the rise. And of course, no economy can survive an indefinite lockdown.
In the midst of a pandemic that has claimed more than 3.4 million lives worldwide to date, the richest countries are beginning to see a return to normalcy. In the poorest countries, it seems that the virus is gaining ground again. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus told the virtual meeting that “the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines is a triumph of science, but their inequitable distribution is a failure for humanity”.
The task of channeling pandemic-fighting resources to low-income countries should now be the priority, and the outcome depends on richer countries and the pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines. “As we prepare for the next pandemic, our priority must be to ensure that we all overcome the current pandemic together. We must vaccinate the world and do it quickly, ”Italian Prime Minister Draghi said at the Rome summit.
Although the G20 rally has stopped calling for a patent waiver on Covid vaccines, Pfizer has pledged to make 1 billion low-cost doses available this year to the poorest countries. A billion more vaccines will be provided next year, said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Johnson & Johnson has pledged 200 million doses of its vaccine to Covax, while Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel has pledged up to 95 million doses for 2021 and 900 million for 2022.
In her opening summit speech, European Commission President von der Leyen said Europe will donate at least 100 million doses to the poorest countries by the end of the year , with commitments from Germany and France for 30 million doses and 15 million from Italy so far. . She also announced that the European Commission will invest € 1 billion in regional Covid-19 vaccine production centers in Africa, which includes the introduction of mRNA technology to the continent for the first time. Currently, 99 percent of the vaccine supply in Africa is imported.
Among the host of other proposals made at the Rome summit, the International Monetary Fund suggested a $ 50 billion plan to end the pandemic by vaccinating at least 40% of all residents by the end of 2021 and at least 60% by the first half. from 2022.
However it is organized or funded, the task at hand is enormous. This already illustrates many of our shortcomings and limitations, while also demonstrating our ability to care about and help others. We are not perfect, but it seems that we are determined to move forward.
The promises come as Europe prepares to open up to international tourists and tries to regain a foothold in the way things were before. So-called vaccination passports are already being organized and “bubble” air routes carrying vaccinated passengers deliver visitors. Europe is bracing for the arrival of American tourists to help fuel its crucial tourism economy.
In this epic battle, it seems like we should take advantage of the little moments of victory. The World Health Summit in Rome provided one of these, a promise that the whole world would one day take back the good parts of life before a microscopic virus changes everything.
Jon Van Housen and Mariella Radaelli are Milan-based journalists