Leading Western powers are stockpiling on vaccines for the COVID-19, ordering them even before they are produced and even before they have been declared effective.
Anyone and everyone who can make a vaccine is taking a shot at it. Vaccine for the COVID-19 is the new holy grail and everyone is after it governments and pharma companies.
There are hundreds of vaccine candidates for the Wuhan virus right now and that should ensure that everyone gets a shot.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
For now, governments are calling the shots and the Western world could have the first access to a vaccine that works.
United States, United Kingdom and the European Union are placing advance orders, they are going to private companies, booking vaccine doses, they are doing all of this well before they could actually find a vaccine that works.
Last week, United States locked up 600 million doses of a vaccine for almost $2 billion. The contract went to two companies, the U.S. has secured similar deals with two more companies, giving it access to well over 600 million doses.
America’s population is only about more than 300 million. This means that America could be locking up more supplies than what its population can use.
On the other hand, the British government has signed deals with three vaccine programs for 190 million doses. The population of the United Kingdom is around 63 million, as per the last census.
The European Union also wants preferential access to a vaccine that works. Major European countries have created Europe’s inclusive vaccine’s alliance.
This group includes France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. These four countries are procuring vaccines for EU member states. This group has already locked up 400 million doses of potential vaccines. The contract has gone to a British drug-maker.
The developed world might lock up supplies for vaccines and the developing countries may not be able to get a vaccine, whenever it is ready and whenever they need it most.
This is not a hypothetical situation, it has happened before in 2009 when the world was fighting H1N1 virus.
Vaccine supplies went to the developed world first as they were able to pay for it and lock up the supplies by signing contracts in advance.
This created a shortage in the developing world, developing countries struggled. Later, nine countries pledged donations for the H1N1 vaccine, that was only after the worst of the pandemic had passed.
The world could see a similar situation play out in the case of COVID-19. The world’s coronavirus strategy depends on a vaccine. the world must now push for fair and equitable access now.