Throughout the past few weeks, you may have heard us throwing around the term “vaccine nationalism.” What we at the People’s Vaccine are fighting for is a safe and effective vaccine for everyone, everywhere. Vaccine nationalism defeats this purpose: this is why.
Vaccine nationalism refers to when countries make efforts to secure supplies of vaccines for their own residents and citizens before they can be made available to other countries. For example, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have engaged in billions of dollars worth of deals with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, pharmaceutical companies holding promising vaccine candidates, before the vaccines were even proven to be safe and/or effective. These deals are meant to secure vaccine doses for each respective country, without paying much attention to the impact that these practices can have on countries who cannot afford to give billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies.
A briefing from CBC News referred to the dangers of vaccine nationalism as having the potential to prolong the pandemic by inhibiting the ability of the vaccine to reach individuals who need it most. The Chief of the World Health Organization Tedros Ghebreyesus said on Thursday that vaccine nationalism must be prevented, given that “sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s interest.” Countermeasures to vaccine nationalism have risen, a prominent one being the COVAX Facility, a global effort to distribute the shots globally while making sure that low- and middle-income countries receive adequate doses as well.