US leads in 'vaccine nationalism' as coronavirus engulfs the world

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2020, 07:09 AM(IST)

Coronavirus vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )

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A vaccine brings tremendous power into the hands of one country. Any country that gets to the vaccine first can reserve it for its population

The desperation for a vaccine is driving countries to try everything and the United States is leading the world in "vaccine nationalism".
In March, the Trump administration met with representatives from Curevac - a German biotech company which is developing a vaccine. 

Reports say the US government wanted exclusive rights for the vaccine. Germany heard about it and promptly issued a statement. The German government said that “Germany is not for sale.” On June 15, Germany invested nearly $340 million in Curevac for a 23 per cent stake in the company.

However, it didn’t stop America’s hunt for a vaccine. The US government has invested $500 million in Moderna’s vaccine project. Moderna is an American company but, America wanted its hands on more vaccines.

In April, French company Sanofi announced that the US had the right to place the largest pre-order for its vaccine because America is partially funding Sanofi’s research but after pressure from the French government the company shifted its stand.

A vaccine is the ultimate weapon to defeat the Wuhan virus whoever has it will call the shots. Any country that gets to the vaccine first can reserve it for its population, control its production and decide how much of it can be exported, to whom and for how much.

A vaccine brings tremendous power into the hands of one country. It this has happened earlier. The world has seen the result of vaccine nationalism. It happened in 2009 during the early stages of the H1N1 pandemic. Wealthy countries entered into pre-purchase agreements with several companies. Rich countries locked the H1NI1 vaccine for themselves and only the developed world had first access.

The United States alone negotiated and bought the right to buy six lakh doses and only when the pandemic was about to end when the demand for the vaccine dropped they decide to share.

Nine developed countries decided to donate vaccine doses. Once again, a cold war is underway for the Wuhan virus vaccine and history seems to be repeating itself.

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