On 21 May, the leaders of the G20 and other states gathered at the Global Health Summit in Rome, in the presence of the heads of international and regional organisations.
A document has been produced to attempt to direct government action for global health. In addition, some programs already underway were confirmed and further multilateral cooperation initiatives promoted to develop greater solidarity on a global level with regard to health emergencies. In this sense, issues such as vaccination patents, the strengthening of the powers of international organisations and, therefore, the partial limitation of national sovereignty for some specific issues were discussed during the Summit, although this is still an uphill path.
The Global Health Summit in Rome was an essential step in the framework of the G20 chaired by Italy and its three priorities: People, Prosperity and the Planet. The meeting was essential in bringing together the new financial commitments for the Covax program. The Covax program is supported by the United Nations and aims to provide two billion doses of the vaccine to at least a quarter of the population of the poorest countries by the end of 2021. Obviously it is important to underline that the Covax program is not strictly connected to vaccines, but also to everything that revolves around the topic. We are talking about rising prices for the purchase of syringes, for the components of the vaccine serum, glass or plastic containers, and the limitation, therefore, of the supplies of the same. Furthermore, it is necessary to face the question of the infrastructures necessary to transport and collect vaccine doses and consequently to provide refrigerated warehouses, distribution trucks, refrigerators for the storage, training and remuneration of health personnel. As you can see, the picture is not as straightforward as is generally thought. The objective is, in fact, to reach a final agreement by the end of October for the G20 Summit.
In light of what has been said, it is important to note that the Declaration does not mention any type of suspension - temporary or non - of patents, but rather the sharing on a voluntary basis of licenses, knowledge and technology used. The direction that the EU would like to follow would therefore be based on the removal of certain obstacles such as export restrictions and new rules for patent licensing.
The concrete commitments of the international community to financially support the Covax program and the Act-Accelerator are one of the results achieved with the Summit. Italy is committed to allocating €300 million to ensure effective immunisation, diagnostics and therapies for low-income countries. Furthermore, as announced by Premier Draghi, a temporary waiver of the TRIPs agreements on the intellectual property of patents will be applied, with the aim of benefiting rapid pharmaceutical responses. The EU, for its part, has promised the allocation of 100 million doses by 2021, of which 15 million from Italy.
An essential point in the Declaration is the One Health guideline, which argues that the most contagious diseases are caused by animal-borne pathogens and that deforestation, biodiversity erosion and other processes of environmental destruction are at the root of many health emergencies. In this regard, during the Summit, it was appropriate to express support for the ongoing review of the mechanisms and institutional set-up of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other bodies.
The pandemic has shown us how fragile we are, and how much multilateral health ties are not as strong as we would have expected.Only through new and innovative institutional mechanisms and international cooperation at every level can we hope to never again experience catastrophic situations similar to those in which we find ourselves.
Translated by Lucica Oana Maris