Jayati Ghosh on ending the COVID-19 vaccine apartheid 

WIDER Webinar Series

Jayati Ghosh on ending the COVID-19 vaccine apartheid 

On 22 June 2021 Jayati Ghosh joins the WIDER Webinar Series to discuss the pathway available to achieve a people’s vaccine, with equitable vaccine distribution, and increased public production. Ken Shadlen joins as discussant to talk about the challenges of increasing production to assure adequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines and the role of technology transfer. 

The COVID-19 vaccine apartheid and how to end it

The development of effective COVID-19 vaccines was a feat of modern medicine. But this remarkable achievement has been overshadowed by the hurdles of production and distribution, further entrenching the division between rich and poor countries. 80% of all vaccinations have taken place in high-income countries, and the vast majority of the world’s population are yet to receive even a single dose. Though this is not purely a story of vaccine hoarding and rich countries being greedy, it stems from a bigger issue, a lack of supply. Right now there are simply not enough doses to go around. But this need not be the case. 

By temporarily waiving Intellectual Property rights and promoting transfers of knowledge and technology to enable public production of the vaccine, the supply issue could be alleviated. As it stands, the patent system is delaying the end of the pandemic and protecting the profits of pharmaceutical companies. 

The event will be chaired by UNU-WIDER director Kunal Sen.

About the speakers

Jayati Ghosh taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for nearly 35 years, and is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA.  She has authored and/or edited 20 books (including The making of a catastrophe: Covid-19 and the Indian economy, Aleph Books forthcoming 2021: Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising India, Women Unlimited, New Delhi 2009; the co-edited Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development, 2014, Demonetisation Decoded, Routledge 2017 and Women workers in the informal economy, Routledge forthcoming) and nearly 200 scholarly articles.

Ken Shadlen is Professor of Development Studies in the Department of International Development of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Ken works on the comparative and international political economy of development, with a focus on understanding variation in national policy responses to changing global rules.