The Global Health Summit in Rome is a gathering of representatives of the G20, international organisations, the scientific community and civil society. The overall theme is ” Together to protect humanity from future pandemics”. A central topic is”Free vaccines and Africa”.
Mario Draghi sends a message of hope at the Global Health Summit. “After a year and a half, we are starting to see the end of this tragedy. For the first time normality is approaching.”
The summit is a moment of collective reflection by world leaders on the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic and on the steps necessary to avert the risk of new global health crises. Or at least to increase the level of preparation. Speaking of tourism, Draghi reiterated that “Italy will have its green pass before the arrival of the European one”.
The proposed temporary suspension of vaccine patents
“Italy is open to the suspension of patents on vaccines against Covid-19” said Draghi. This measure is to be adopted “in a targeted manner, within a limited timescale, which does not jeopardise the incentive for pharmaceutical companies to innovate”.
However, the PM adds, “this doesn’t help low income countries” to “produce their own vaccines”. For this reason, continues Draghi, these countries must be “supported financially with specialised skills”. “The Pharmaceutical companies have committed themselves and have put their reputations on the line” he added.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated our societies. More than 3.4 million people have died from the virus according to the official data, but the death toll is certainly much higher”.
Last year, the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs disappeared globally, roughly four times those lost during the financial crisis. At least 1.5 billion students had not attended school in March last year. About 700 million students, even today, do not receive an education in the classroom continues Draghi. “The global crisis is not over. We must act quickly otherwise these human, economic and social costs are likely to rise significantly further.
In Europe, we have responded in an energetic and coordinated way. Our doctors and nurses have cared for thousands of patients, often in overcrowded hospitals. My gratitude goes to them for their selfless service, which cost many of them their lives. Our governments and central banks have initiated several rounds of fiscal and monetary stimulus. These have helped save jobs, and prevent unwanted bankruptcies.”
Our scientists have developed a number of effective vaccines, with unprecedented speed. We are administering them quickly, starting with the elderly and the most vulnerable, and guaranteeing them to everyone free of charge, insists the PM.
Von Der Leyden and aid to Africa
The summit brings together global representatives at the highest political level around the same (virtual) table. It aims to reaffirm the need for “close and constant international collaboration to overcome the current pandemic and discuss how to prevent new health crises from emerging, that have a dramatic impact in terms of victims and economic and social consequences such as those that Covid-19 has had”. In other words, “the sacrifices made in recent months must not remain in vain”.
And as Draghi explains: “Italy has promoted a four-point strategy to help the most fragile countries in the world, by supporting the balance of payments of countries in need. Encouraging multilateral development banks to scale up their net financing activities. And temporarily suspending debt repayment payments to protect countries in need. Italy was one of the first and hardest hit countries in the pandemic. We have learned our lessons and we want to put them to good use. We want to lead the global drive to design better global responses to current and future health crises.”
At the Rome Summit, projects are promoted to increase the production capacity of vaccines and, above all, to provide higher doses to middle-low-income countries as soon as possible. The president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, also announced an EU initiative to support production capacity in Africa. “We are working closely with our industrial partners to provide vaccines to low and middle income countries. They have just committed to provide 1.3 billion doses to these countries in 2021”.
The Rome Declaration
Brussels considers the “Rome Declaration” a “tangible guide for world leaders on how to prevent the emergence of viruses from turning into a pandemic”. It is, politically, a “celebration of health multilateralism”. Its objective is to change the approach of the world’s leaders in the fight against the pandemic. It also serves as “a voluntary orientation in present and future action for global health”. Leaders draw up objectives “to improve preparedness in response and prevention, for a coordinated and resilient response”.
China, Singapore, Spain and the Netherlands, Portugal (as president of the EU Council), Norway (as co-president of ACT-Accelerator) and Switzerland also participate in the summit. The leaders of international and regional organisations such as the UN, WHO, World Bank, IMF, OECD, African Union, ASEAN, WTO and FAO are also involved.
For the future, five areas have been identified as ways in which not to be caught unprepared next time. These are: solidarity, fairness, multilateral cooperation, good governance and putting people at the centre of preparing to respond to pandemics – based on science, dialogue and sustainable finance .
“This is the very first time that we have all come together on Health and we must make sure together that this is the last global pandemic. This must be the goal of the Rome Declaration,” commented the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Big Pharma: 3.5 billion doses to poor countries
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson promise 3.5 billion doses of Covid vaccines for poor countries in 2021-2022. About 1.3 billion doses in 2021, the rest next year. Pfizer will supply 2 billion doses, Moderna up to 995 million and Johnson & Johnson up to 500 million. The doses will be provided at cost to low-income countries and at a reduced price to middle-income countries.