The TRIPS Agreement came into effect in 1995 as part of a broad new suite of trade agreements resulting from the Uruguay Round of multilateral negotiations that led to the creation of the WTO. The agreements were treated as a ‘single undertaking’. States had to sign up to all of them if they wanted to join the new organisation. On its own, the TRIPS Agreement was a strikingly bad deal for most states, especially in relation to the expanded patent regime it established.
Bill and Melinda Gates have asked for privacy after their divorce announcement, but a storm of attention seems more likely. Interest in their marital arrangements isn’t merely prurient. They are public figures and their personal lives have political ramifications. The urgent question in global health circles is what will happen to their powerhouse foundation in the wake of their split. Large amounts of funding hang in the balance.
The first recorded polio epidemic was in Sweden in the 1880s, though inscriptions in Egypt suggest the disease dates back to ancient times. In 1916 the virus devastated New York and swathes of the north-eastern United States, killing six thousand people, mostly children, and leaving thousands more paralysed. Unlike other deadly epidemic diseases, such as tuberculosis, polio appeared to have no correlation to poverty. ‘Once the terror stalks, mere wealth cannot buy immunity,’ as the Ladies Home Journal put it in 1935. ‘The well-fed babies of the boulevards are no safer than gamins from the gutter from the mysterious universality of the crippling midget, once it’s on the rampage.’