WTO Director General insists on equitable access to Covid vaccines
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Tuesday the world would face continued disruption to lives and livelihoods if equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and other countermeasures were not granted. ‘was not assured in the context of the spread of the Omicron variant.
Speaking at the 2021 ICN Partnership Summit, she also highlighted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is working with all vaccine manufacturers, including Indian companies, to keep supply chains functioning and identify possible bottlenecks and solutions.
“We have also pushed manufacturers to increase their production in developing countries,” she added.
She said the global economy was enjoying a strong but K-shaped recovery from the economic shocks associated with the pandemic.
The IMF predicted in October that the global economy would grow 5.9% this year and 4.9% in 2022, she said, adding that for India the numbers are more robust – 9, 5% this year and 8.5% next year.
However, she added that the Omicron variant could put downward pressure on those estimates.
Okonjo-Iweala said the Omicron variant is a “stark reminder that if we don’t ensure equitable access globally to the COVID-19 vaccine and other countermeasures, we will soon face continued disruption of life and livelihood ”.
She noted that even before Omicron’s emergence, the trends were clearly advanced and several emerging economies were experiencing strong growth while low-income countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, were being left behind.
She added that the Indian economy is not only a service business, it is also a global pharmaceutical powerhouse.
The incredible response of this pharmaceutical industry to the pandemic underlines the potential of the sector to meet not only national but also global demand, she added.
Speaking on the occasion, Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said India believes that the WTO trade rules are strong and that bilateral agreements cannot replace multilateralism.
“We strive strongly to maintain a consensus-based approach. The WTO can better deal with international trade issues. We are all in favor of strengthening it,” he added.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)