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What is Vaccine Nationalism?

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

What is Vaccine Nationalism?


Context:

Even before the end of final stage human trials or regulatory approval, several wealthier countries like Britain, France, Germany and the US have entered into pre-purchase agreements with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, a development that has come to be known as “vaccine nationalism”.

  • There are fears that such advance agreements will make the initial few vaccines unaffordable and inaccessible to everyone apart from the rich countries in a world of roughly 8 billion people.

What is Vaccine Nationalism? How it works?

Vaccine nationalism occurs when a country manages to secure doses of vaccine for its own citizens or residents before they are made available in other countries.

This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.

How was it used in the past?

Vaccine nationalism is not new. During the early stages of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, some of the wealthiest countries entered into pre-purchase agreements with several pharmaceutical companies working on H1N1 vaccines.

  • At that time, it was estimated that, in the best-case scenario, the maximum number of vaccine doses that could be produced globally was two billion.
  • The US alone negotiated and obtained the right to buy 600,000 doses. All the countries that negotiated pre-purchase orders were developed economies.

Why its not good? What are the associated concerns?

  • Vaccine nationalism is harmful for equitable access to vaccines.
  • It further disadvantages countries with fewer resources and bargaining power.
  • It deprives populations in the Global South from timely access to vital public health goods.
  • Taken to its extreme, it allocates vaccines to moderately at-risk populations in wealthy countries over populations at higher risk in developing economies.

What needs to be done?

  • International institutions — including the WHO — should coordinate negotiations ahead of the next pandemic to produce a framework for equitable access to vaccines during public health crises.
  • Equity entails both, affordability of vaccines and access opportunities for populations across the world, irrespective of geography and geopolitics.

What is being done now?

To bring about equitable and broad access, WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi have come up with an initiative known as “Covax Facility”. The facility aims to procure at least two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of next year for deployment and distribution mainly in the low- and middle-income countries.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is vaccine nationalism?
  2. Which drugs are being used in the treatment of COVID 19 disease?
  3. Various tests to detect SARS- COV 2.
  4. What is H1N1?

Mains Link:

What is Vaccine Nationalism? What are the concerns associated? Discuss.

Sources: Indian Express.