Harmful “Vaccine Nationalism”
The All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN) recently stated that, the idea of vaccine nationalism was a “wholly misconceived” and it must be given up.
Recently India had imposed some restrictions on exports of COVID vaccine, potentially downgrading the goodwill earned earlier by free supply of COVID vaccines to friendly developing countries and by its contribution to the international COVAX programme to supply vaccines to lower-income nations.
- Vaccine nationalism is a strategy in which a country wants to secure a vaccine dose for its countrymen before making it available to other countries. For this purpose, an agreement is reached between the government and the vaccine manufacturer before the purchase.
- The concept of vaccine nationalism is not new. In the early stages of the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, pre-purchase agreements were signed by rich countries of the world with companies producing H1N1 vaccine.
- Recently, one such agreement was made by the US. The US has acquired the right to purchase 600,000 doses under the pre-purchase agreement for the vaccine. It is known that developed economies are participating more in such agreements.
- Experts believe that, under normal circumstances, a maximum of two billion doses of any vaccine can be produced globally.
- If the spirit of vaccine nationalism increases, then access to the vaccine of a disease to all the needy countries will be hindered, which can lead to very serious problem.
- Underdeveloped countries with low income, and countries that have little resources, and little bargaining power, will have more fear.
- It deprives the people of southern parts of the world access to important public health goods in time.
- It is well known that vaccine supply is less than demand. In such a situation, it is up to the discretion of the countries that who will receive the vaccine first, however, often all countries decide to look after their own interests.
- According to the Global Human Rights Commission, a global decision-making body should be formed on the basis of all these questions that- Who needs a vaccine first? Which group is more vulnerable?
- There is a need to formulate a strategy for equal distribution of medicines during public health crisis by all international institutions including the World Health Organization.
- For equality, both the affordability and access of the vaccine to the global population are indispensable.
Source – The Hindu