World Health Organisation

Why new Omicron variant highlights the urgent need to lift vaccine patents

International — Investigation

The emergence of the new variant of Covid-19 called Omicron should serve as a wakeup call to rich countries that unless the whole world is given access to vaccines the pandemic is doomed to continue. Instead, the new variant was given as the reason why a key meeting at the World Trade Organisation to debate the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines was postponed indefinitely. Rozenn Le Saint reports on the anger of French activists at the lack of progress on what they see as a key issue in tacking the pandemic in poorer countries.

Interpol’s multi-million-euro deal to play policeman for the drugs giants

International — Investigation

The international police cooperation organization Interpol earlier this year entered into an agreement with the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms for a joint programme to halt the circulation of counterfeit drugs, for which the firms will pay Interpol 4.5 million euros. But the backdrop to what may appear a laudable exercise to crack down on bogus drugs that yearly claim hundreds of thousands of lives is the drugs industry’s campaign against the production of low-cost generic medicines in emerging economies, and which provide a lifeline to many in poor countries. The relationship between French drugs giant Sanofi and Interpol raises further questions about the deal. Has Interpol become a tool for the pharmaceutical giants to maintain a stranglehold on access to medicines? This investigation by Mathieu Martinière and Robert Schmidt is published jointly by Mediapart, monthly magazine Lyon Capitale and German weekly Die Zeit.