Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a debilitating and often deadly disease. Until recently, the only treatments for its symptoms were difficult to administer and time-consuming. Life-changing new treatments that dramatically improve the prognosis for people with the disease have been developed, but they are expensive and Vertex, the US company making the drugs, has decided against registering the drugs in South Africa. Cheri Nel, a woman living with CF, is now taking Vertex on in a South African court. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the details.
25 heads of state, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, have called for the creation of an international pandemic treaty to strengthen global capacity to predict and respond to pandemic threats. But what should we make of this development, given that existing treaties have often been ignored during the COVID-19 crisis and recent efforts toward a research and development treaty for health products have floundered, asks Catherine Tomlinson.
The World Trade Organization TRIPS council is expected to vote on South Africa and India’s proposed patent waiver on 10 or 11 March which could, if granted, help countries to scale up production of COVID-19 vaccines. But, while the waiver is important, argues Julia Chaskalson, it is also urgent that South Africa should amend its outdated domestic patent laws.
While COVID-19 will continue to make headlines for some time, 2021 will also be a critical year for healthcare reforms in South Africa and for various aspects of the country’s HIV and TB response. These are Spotlight’s top 12 healthcare questions for the year.
South Africa is set to produce its first vaccine in 25 years, but it won’t be a COVID-19 jab. Plans are however in place to “fill and finish” COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa. Laura Lopez Gonzalez has the details.
In 2018, Cabinet adopted a new intellectual property policy for South Africa, but as yet the policy has not led to any change in the country’s patent laws. Amending these laws as soon as possible is critical to both the COVID-19 and HIV response, argues Umunyana Rugege.
Having pressed the imperative of equitable global sharing of COVID-19 health products, President Ramaphosa must now declare support for the Intellectual Property Pool for COVID-19, argues Professor Yousuf Vawda & Professor Brook K Baker.
As the confirmed number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa climbs toward 20 000, a group of 80 leading academics, teachers and researchers have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to urge reform of South Africa’s Patents Act. We republish the letter in full.
Unless timely action is taken, South Africa could be faced with a new form of “pharmaceutical apartheid,” like that experienced in the early days of the AIDS response, writes Professor Yousuf Vawda & Professor Brook K. Baker.
Around the turn of the century developing countries fought for and won safeguards to promote access to medicines in international trade law. These safeguards are now being heralded by lawmakers around the world as critical legal mechanisms that nations can and must use in the fight against COVID-19, writes Catherine Tomlinson.