In the discussions of the virus in the Global North many have missed the simple point that new variants often arise in unvaccinated populations in the Global South.
Dr. Peter Hotez Dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s Tropical Medicines School and Chair at Texas Children’s Hospital and his colleague Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi announced last week that they would give away their new, highly effective COVID-19 vaccine based on traditional, easily replicable, economical methods (each dose costs about a dollar and a half to produce) to the Global South.
Their research teams have already transferred production technology to Hyderabad, India based Biological E and will soon include Biopharma ID in Indonesia and companies in Bangladesh, and Botswana. This free and open transfer is being implemented free of patents to manufacturers that the teams deem to be competent enough to produce the vaccines.
We know that Biological E in India plans to produce 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine this year, and that this week Biopharma ID in Indonesia announced that it would start producing this traditional, economical vaccine as well.
The Global South as a whole needs 9 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2022 alone. It is clear that the world can not afford 9 billion doses of mRNA vaccines for the Global South.
However, the Global South itself is capable of producing 9 billion doses of economical, traditional, locally-sourced vaccines that work. This is an example of the Gandhian economics that we espouse, practice, and teach.
Aby and Jane