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Vaccine battle among countries 

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Syllabus: GS 2 – Health related issues

Synopsis: Countries should refrain from engaging in vaccine battles and focus on global cooperation.

Introduction 

Almost all countries across the globe are in need of access to vaccines. But the developed countries are mindlessly collecting approved vaccines.

Only the countries in the global south like China and India are helping out other countries.

How are rich countries engaging in vaccine battles?

As per a few reports, the advance purchase contracts made by some countries for potential vaccine procurement are way above their need. It would vaccinate their population many times.

  • For example, the EU population can be vaccinated two times, the US and the UK four times, and Canada six times.
  • 82% of Pfizer’s production in 2021 and 78% of Moderna’s have already been advance purchased by leading countries. 

Advanced countries are engaged in vaccine battles as they believe that an early vaccination will bring back normalcy in their countries. Concepts of Public good and global cooperation are missing from the scene.

What is India’s stance?

On the other hand, India is exporting a major percentage of the approved doses. Its initial shipment to the least developed countries will be free of cost.

Exports from India are helping other nations, especially its neighbouring countries. For example, Brazil has received 2 million doses of vaccine from India.

India’s approach supports the need for coordinated international efforts to bring COVID-19 under control.

Solutions

The COVAX project is a program based on funding from high and middle-income countries. It is a global risk-sharing mechanism for shared obtaining and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. 

This project aimed to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. But it is facing challenges from rich countries due to their excessive vaccine procurement, directly from suppliers.

But now as U.S. President Joe Biden has decided to join the COVAX project,  expectations from the project are high. India, which is a hub of cost-effective vaccines, would be instrumental in its success.  For example, Covishield, the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine produced in India costs only $3 per dose; Covaxin is priced at $4.2. 

The way forward

The development of vaccines should have shown global cooperation between the North and the South. But the democratic world is suffering from increasing democratic tendencies. 

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