Friday (June 18th): Mayta vs. Big Pharma

Rogelio Mayta

Name? Rogelio Mayta

Westphalian identity? Bolivian

Age? 49

Why is he in the news? As Foreign Minister of Bolivia, Mayta will sit (virtually) alongside other politicians and health professionals from the global south this weekend at the Summit for Vaccine Internationalism. The Summit aims to reach a common plan for the production and distribution of vaccines for all–organized in response to the recent G7 meeting which vaccine distributors have labelled as ‘disappointing.’ 

Why do we care? The global south has called out G7 leaders for doing too little too late to help less developed countries fight the pandemic. However, this conference represents a major advantage over previous complaints in that it centres on collective disobedience. Should the nations in attendance reach an agreement on collective disobedience that would introduce national legislation to override international property protections collectively, they may finally find themselves a credible threat to big pharma. 

Why should you care? Because the longer the virus circulates the globe, the more it mutates, and the more aggressive it may bounce back to rich countries already rolling out extensive vaccination campaigns. In fact, the ICC estimates it will cost the global economy $9.2 trillion for the failure to deliver vaccines to every country. You should care 7/10.

Who else cares? Big Pharma corporations such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. It’s undeniable that big pharma companies are some of the only ones to have benefited financially from the pandemic. If Mayta and other ministers are successful at the Summit, however, big pharma’s financial and intellectual security is on the line.

Any further comments? Big pharma may hold their patents a bit longer as politicians from countries like Cuba and Venezuela are expected to use the summit as a platform against the U.S. government over issues like sanctions rather than shifting the logic of the international health system from national to international, competition to cooperation, as the Summit intends…gotta love geopolitics

Sarah McFadden

General Coordinator