COVID-19 Pandemic: What is ‘Vaccine Nationalism’?

The wealthier countries are striking pre-purchase deals with pharma companies to buy the vaccine of coronavirus once the trials prove successful. As we know that the whole world is struggling with the coronavirus and waiting eagerly for the vaccine to restart the life at the same pace.

Across the world, various companies are doing research for COVID-19 vaccine and to make vaccine available first to the citizens, several wealthier nations have already placed orders of worth millions. What is ‘Vaccine Nationalism’? Why this term is in use? Was the term is used in the past? Check it below in detail.

What is ‘Vaccine Nationalism’?

We can say that it is a phenomenon of reserving COVID-19 vaccine by various nations. Various wealthier nations including Britain, France, Germany and the US before the end of the final stage of human trials have ended into pre-purchase agreements with the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccine. This development came to be known as ‘Vaccine Nationalism”.

Fear related to ‘Vaccine Nationalism’

Therefore there are some fears that such type of advance agreements will make the initial few vaccines unaffordable and inaccessible to everyone from the rich nations in a world of roughly 8 billion people.

Due to this World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the nations that hoard possible COVID-19 vaccines while excluding others would deepen the pandemic. Additionally WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “We need to prevent vaccine nationalism. Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is really in each country’s national interest.”

Was ‘Vaccine Nationalism’ used in the past?

The phenomenon of reserving COVID-19 vaccine by various nations that is ‘Vaccine Nationalism’ is not new. During 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic early stages, some of the wealthiest countries entered into the pre-purchase agreements with various pharmaceutical companies that were working on H1N1 vaccines.

It was estimated that time the maximum number of vaccine doses that could be produced across the world was two billion. And the alone US had negotiated and obtained the right to buy roughly 600,000 doses. Pre-purchase orders that time was negotiated by the developed economies. H1N1 pandemic infected more than 22 million worldwide and killed 777,000

Issues or drawbacks related to ‘Vaccine Nationalism”

– It is said that the phenomena of reserving COVID-19 vaccine by various nations are harmful to equitable access to vaccines.

– It leads to countries with fewer resources and bargaining power.

– It also deprives populations globally from timely access to vital public health goods.

– If taken to an extreme in wealthy countries it allocates vaccines too moderately at-risk populations over populations at higher risk in developing economies.

What is being done now or the probable solution?

To bring about equitable and broad access, WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi have come up with an initiative called “Covax Facility”.

It will procure at least two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of next year for development and distribution mainly in the low and middle-income countries.

To prevent pre-purchase agreements, there are no provisions in international laws. It is said that global collaboration is the alternative to arrest vaccine nationalism which is being done through WHO-backed COVAX Facility mechanism. Further, countries that have joined the initiative are assured by the supply of vaccines whenever they become successful. Also, the countries will get assurance that they will get supplies at least to protect 20 per cent of their populations.

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