In an article published in the magazine "Gesundheit und Gesellschaft" (G+G) of the AOK Federal Association, Prof. Dr. Dr. Jens Holst from Fulda University of Applied Sciences warned that a pandemic can only be defeated through globally coordinated and effective action. Pandemics are a global problem and therefore require global responses.
Global health policy, however, is strongly influenced by national egoisms, says Prof. Holst, who heads the International Health Sciences programme. This is illustrated by the global run on COVID-19 vaccine, in which rich countries have hogged almost all the production, he said. The World Health Organisation (WHO), with the support of the EU and individual high-income countries, has launched the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative to make vaccine available worldwide. But so far, the financially strong industrialised countries have secured the majority of the vaccines, while hardly anything has reached the poor countries of the world, criticises Prof. Holst in G+G. Instead of relying on the mercy of rich states, "the international community of states should suspend patent protection for Corona vaccines in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the responsible global authority". In order to offer all people quick access to COVID-19 vaccines, a patent suspension would be more promising than the only "hesitantly starting Covax initiative", says Holst, explicitly criticising the blocking attitude of the German government. Especially in the COVID-19 crisis, the German government could prove that it is serious about its global health strategy and that it gives higher priority to the right to health than to the right to profits of vaccine manufacturers.
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