WTO Explores Role of Trade Policy in Rapid Vaccine Roll-out

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Oluchi Chibuzor

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Secretariat has published a new information note on trade-related issues for COVID-19 vaccine production, manufacturing and deployment.
The note, entitled, “Developing and delivering COVID-19 vaccines around the world,” explores how trade policy can play its part in ensuring the rapid roll-out of vaccines against COVID-19.

The paper focused on key topics which included two documents previously published on the WTO website: “Infographic: Developing & delivering COVID-19 vaccines around the world” and “Developing & delivering COVID-19 vaccines around the world: A checklist of issues with trade impact”.

The new information note comprised three sections.
The report provided background information on immunisation and the urgent search for vaccines against COVID-19.
It pointed to immunisation as a key component of primary health care and highlighted the ambitious national and global targets that have been set for COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the World Health Organisation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses are to be distributed by the end of 2021, with an allocation for every country equal to 20 per cent of the population so as to cover prioritised target groups.

Furthermore, the report provided an overview of the development and delivery of vaccines in the form of an infographic listing seven steps in this process: vaccine development, domestic approval (manufacture), vaccine manufacture, domestic approval (importer), international distribution, border clearance, and domestic distribution and surveillance.

Finally, it identified where key decisions with trade impact may need to be made along the vaccine value chain and provides a non-exhaustive list of useful resources to help inform decision-making.

This included a checklist of trade issues to consider along with the COVID-19 vaccine value chain, as well as a world map of clinical trials and partnerships on COVID-19 treatments.