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Progressive International hails new ‘vaccine internationalism’ after four-day summit

GOVERNMENTS of the global south committed to the beginning of a “new international health order” today with the sharing of Covid-19 vaccine technology and production.

The move has been hailed by Progressive International (PI), a grouping formed in September 2020 by the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM) and the Sanders Foundation in a bid to reconfigure world politics.

It has hosted a four-day summit which was attended by representatives of Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela as well as the regional governments of Kisumu in Kenya and Kerala in India.

The gathering was called as an emergency response to “vaccine apartheid.” PI says that 85 per cent of vaccines administered worldwide have been in high and upper-middle-income countries. By contrast just 0.3 per cent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.

“At this pace, the pandemic will continue to rip through the global south, leaving the whole world highly vulnerable, for another 57 years,” the group said in a statement.

Commitments were made in five key areas vital for speeding up the production and distribution of medicine to end the pandemic: open collaboration over Covid-19 vaccine technologies; solidarity prices for Covid-19 vaccines; sharing of regulatory capacity to approve Covid-19 vaccines for domestic use; pooling manufacturing capacity to increase production of vaccine and medical equipment; and collective disobedience to challenge the Big Pharma monopoly enforced through the World Trade Organisation.

Summit co-ordinator Varsha Gandikota-Nellutia hailed the agreement as “desperately needed to overcome the vaccine apartheid which threatens our very survival, calls the south’s sovereignty into question and risks further murderous mutations of this virus.

“A concerted effort from states, institutions, companies and peoples is needed to move from nationalism to internationalism, from competition to co-operation, from charity to solidarity,” she said.

Responding to a question from the Morning Star, PI spokesman Archat Prabhata said that China and Russia were “models of vaccine internationalism,”  being the only countries that have made their licences and technology available to the world.

And Ms Gandikota-Nellutia said PI wanted to “expand the alliance on the principles of internationalism” and would welcome China’s involvement. 

PI said it will hold a series of meetings to turn the pledges into a reality and “expand this emerging alliance for vaccine internationalism to include other states, manufacturers and political actors.”

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