Bulletin #5: A pandemic of weak systems

This fortnight

For over two months, Bolivia has been waiting for the Canadian government to grant a compulsory license to the Canada-based drug manufacturer Biolyse for the production of Covid-19 vaccines. In May this year, Bolivia and Biolyse reached an agreement that would allow the import of 15 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in Bolivia, significantly boosting the country’s vaccination program. The agreement remains stalled by Canada’s reluctance to grant the license. In Short Reads, a new section in our bulletin, we bring you a report on the process.

The high prices of Covid-19 vaccines remain an issue in many parts of the world. In Uganda, doses were purchased for a price higher than in South Africa and Europe, and the rollout is far from picking up pace. Under pressure from a recent surge in cases, the government has introduced a new lockdown, but concerns about the success of the pandemic response remain high.

Although vaccines are now widely available in the Global North, some countries there have still been left behind. Bosnia, a close neighbour to the EU, has been struggling for months to obtain enough vaccines for its population. Through a combination of a weakened health system due to lack of funding and bad coordination, it has achieved the highest Covid-19 mortality rate in the West Balkans - and its neighbours do not seem to care.

Rich countries have obviously returned to the business as usual model while they wait for the pandemic to go away. This can also be seen from the outlines of the UN Food Systems Summit, which is to take place in September this year. As the forum has been captured by big industry, the people and networks have come together in the Peoples’ Counter Mobilisation to Transform Corporate Food Systems, calling for a return to the food sovereignty framework that the UN system had embraced in previous decades.

This issue also brings a video interview about the reporting of Covid-19 related deaths in India with Professor Christophe Z Guilmoto. In a conversation with Indranil Mukhopadhyay, he explains why the real number of Covid-19 deaths in India could be several times higher than reported.

COVID-19 in Uganda: A lockdown foretold

A lagging vaccine program and shortages of vital medical equipment has contributed to the worsening of the COVID-19 situation in Uganda. Meanwhile, the private sector has been thriving

Bosnia’s weak health system is the cause of the highest mortality rate in West Balkans

Bosnia and Herzegovina has registered the highest Covid-19 mortality rate in the West Balkans, as a health system weakened by budget cuts could not respond to the pressure. This difficult situation has only been made worse by limited access to vaccines

Sustainable food systems are possible outside corporate agriculture

The United Nations Food Systems Summit has become one of the most controversial events of this year due to corporate take over. Civil society activists came together during the pre-summit to register their protest

Video interview: What led to under-counting of COVID-19 deaths in India?

Professor Christophe Z Guilmoto talks to Indranil Mukhopadhyay on the nature of registration of deaths in India and the reason many COVID-19 fatalities across the country were not properly recorded

Short reads

Bolivia: Patients’ or patents’ rights in the times of the pandemic?

The Bolivian government reached an agreement with Biolyse, a Canadian drug manufacturer, to produce additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines if a compulsory license is issued. However, their efforts have been blocked by the interest of patent-holders profiteering on the pandemic

Data speaks

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