The global race for a COVID19 vaccine is on.
There is the hope – even the prayer – for its success:
“strong international coordination and co-operation among vaccine developers, regulators, policy makers, funders, public health bodies and governments will be needed to ensure safe and effective vaccine can be manufactured in sufficient quantities and made globally accessible.” [Emphasis added]
– The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, April 2020.
CEPR is a premier global partnership coordinating such organizations to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.
Added perspective and an admonition from Simon Everett, MBA Director and Coordinator of the Global Trade Alert monitoring protectionism at University of St. Galen, on current tariff reductions on existing medical products: “As 77 nations have cut tariffs on medical products why can’t some enterprising trade minister or 2 assemble a large coalition backing supply chains in medical goods? (Twitter trail):
But yesterday The New York Times raised some worrisome realities, “A New Front For Nationalism: The Global Battle Against A Virus” . Excerpts:
“Now, just as the world requires collaboration to defeat the coronavirus … national interests are winning out … This is a battle for supremacy over products that may determine who lives and who dies.”
Sadly, disturbingly – tragically – the life-or-death international search for a COVID19 vaccine has become enmeshed in a perversion of global trade objectives and outcomes.
” … in many countries – especially the United States – a stark failure by governments to equitably distribute the bounty has undermined faith in trade, giving way to a protectionist mentality in which goods and resources are viewed as zero-sum …
“‘The export bans are not helpful,’ said Mariangela Simao, assistant director general for medicines and health products at the World Health Organization in Geneva. ‘It can disrupt supply chains of some products that are actually needed everywhere.’ “
With some 50 potential vaccines reportedly now in development around the world, there is hope for an effective version, perhaps late this year or in early 2021. Whether it will be shared equitably isn’t certain.
Much of this turmoil is the result of the long running, roller-coaster disputes between China and the United States. But other countries are also involved in this terrible existential scrum. The Times article summary:
“‘I’m worried about every country that has the potential to manufacture the vaccine.’ said Dr. Richard Hatchett, the chief executive of the [CEPI] vaccine consortium. ‘They all have the ability to impose export controls. They all have the ability to nationalize their vaccine industry.
“If that is what happens, the dangers proliferate.”