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Vaccine Apartheid

Summary:
Because a pandemic can be overcome only when it is overcome everywhere, embracing an every-country-for-itself approach would seem irrational. And yet, as the unseemly competition for vaccine doses indicates, that is exactly what many countries have done. NEW DELHI – The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have announced that the COVID-19 vaccine they are jointly developing was more than 90% effective in early clinical trials. The news raised hopes around the world that life may soon return to pre-pandemic normal. Why Biden Can Overcome Political Gridlock Alex Wong/Getty Images How to

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Because a pandemic can be overcome only when it is overcome everywhere, embracing an every-country-for-itself approach would seem irrational. And yet, as the unseemly competition for vaccine doses indicates, that is exactly what many countries have done.

NEW DELHI – The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech have announced that the COVID-19 vaccine they are jointly developing was more than 90% effective in early clinical trials. The news raised hopes around the world that life may soon return to pre-pandemic normal.

Those hopes may not last long. The announcement also sent governments scrambling to lay claim to vaccine doses, apparently realizing a bleak prediction: wealthy countries and individuals will monopolize early doses of any effective vaccine.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) – led by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – was established precisely to prevent this outcome. The COVAX Facility aims to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development, secure doses for all countries, and distribute those doses fairly, beginning with the highest-risk groups. In other words, the facility was created partly to prevent hoarding by rich-country governments.

So far, more than 180 countries, representing nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, have joined. This includes 94 higher-income countries, all of which have made legally binding commitments. All will have access to the vaccines in the COVAX list, and pay for their doses...

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