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12 August, 2020 07:10:28 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 August, 2020 07:11:33 PM
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Vaccine nationalism is not the solution to fight Covid-19

Standfirst: The least developed countries naturally have less resources and lesser bargaining power. So the most immediate effect of vaccine nationalism will be on these under-developed countries.
Anik Ahmed
Vaccine nationalism is not the solution to fight Covid-19

The deadly Covid-19 has devastated the entire world. Researchers around the world are working to develop an effective vaccine to prevent the coronavirus. Vaccine development and testing is usually a long-term process. After several tests, however, the vaccine is suitable for use in the human body. But in the case of the covid-19 vaccine, researchers are trying to complete it in 12-18 months.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 132 vaccines in the preclinical stage, 14 vaccines in the first stage, 6 vaccines in the second stage, and 2 vaccines in the third stage. However, there is an unhealthy competition among the developed countries for getting the vaccines first.

US President Donald Trump has already indicated that his country will be the first to get the vaccine. India, Russia, UK, France, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Canada are also going to take this position as well. The trend of keeping Covid-19 vaccines or permanent vaccines in one's own country has been called 'vaccine nationalism'.

Experts believe it will plunge the world's public health and economy into a man-made catastrophe, as well as undermine the right of people to get a vaccine.

To control the supply of resources, wealthy countries have always resorted to blockades. Similarly, the coronavirus vaccine is seen by the developed world as a kind of limited resource.

On June 15, the German government announced that it would invest 300 million euros in the acquisition of a 23% stake in CureVac. The US Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA) has increased its investment in research into several vaccines already underway. They have taken steps to ensure the financial security of the pharmaceutical companies involved in the study to ensure that the antidote they discovered reaches the United States first.

The United States is the financial backer of Moderna's vaccine candidate. At the same time, they have invested in preliminary research by the French firm Sanofi and the UK's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The UK government has already spent millions of pounds on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The National Research Council of the Government of Canada has also already entered into an agreement with Cansino Biologics of China to produce a vaccine. The Serum Institute of India has indicated that if the vaccine is successfully discovered, most of the vaccines will be distributed in India.

Four European countries i.e. France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, have formed a vaccine alliance to receive priority benefits in the development and supply of vaccines. In this way, rich nations are ensuring their control over potentially successful vaccines.

India, Russia and the United States have also expressed inability to participate in the global vaccine distribution and medical programmes initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO). In the meantime, the United States has officially cut off funding to the WHO.

Least developed states naturally have less resources and lesser bargaining power. So the most immediate effect of vaccine nationalism will be on these under-developed countries. It can be seen that relatively low risk people in developed countries will get the vaccine instead of the people of underdeveloped countries.

However, this is not the first case of 'vaccine nationalism' in the world. At the beginning of the H1N1 flu epidemic in 2009, some rich countries signed advance agreements with various pharmaceuticals to purchase the vaccine. At that time, about two billion doses of vaccine were produced. Of these, the United States needed about six million doses. Every country in the developed world at that time tried to reach an agreement in advance to get priority in getting vaccines. After that, when the epidemic decreased, the demand for vaccines also decreased. Developed countries were then forced to give vaccine grants to poor countries.

Vaccine production is an expensive process and is usually produced in limited quantities. Moreover, no international policy exits to prevent countries from unilateral agreements on vaccine distribution. In many cases, such pre-contracts also encourage companies to produce vaccines.

So in this case, it is important to bring a change in behaviour and mentality among everyone. If steps are not taken to protect all the populations of the world, its long-term economic impact will be felt worldwide.

Therefore, it is important to ensure international policies for the equal distribution of vaccines in developed as well as underdeveloped and developing countries. In order to solve the problem, the political leadership as well as the concerned industries must come forward on humanitarian grounds.

The writer is a student at Department of Law, University of Rajshahi.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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