Reply To: Corona virus: Government takes the St Augustine approach.

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Vaccine nationalism and vaccine diplomacy. Or should it be vaccine capitalism profit seeking corporations vs vaccine cooperation to fight a world pandemic?

In an article in the Guardian “Vaccine diplomacy: west falling behind in race for influence”, the authors, Michael Safi and Milivoe Pantovic analyse the way that vaccine supplies have been used in different ways in the West where production is by profit seeking big Pharma (with the exception of the Astra Zeneca Vaccine, and by State controlled Pharma in Russia and China.

“Conspicuously missing so far from the fray of overseas deals and donations have been western governments, which are consumed with vaccinating their own populations first and have preferred to channel vaccine aid into multilateral schemes such as Covax, the sharing mechanism that will start by supplying about 3% of the most vulnerable people in middle- and lower-income countries over the next six months.”

The article then discusses how China and Russia have managed to pledge 800,000 million doses of vaccines as a gift to many developing countries and in some cases to get the vaccine manufactured under license in other countries, thus increasing manufacturing capacity and speed of vaccination. It has to be said that this is also the basis by which India is manufacturing the Astra Zeneca Vaccine and sharing it with South Asian countries.

But the article is rather grudging about Russia and China but instead blames them for exploiting this:

“By then, countries such as the UK, US and Canada expect to be on their way to herd immunity, along with a clutch of other wealthy countries that have bought up most of the supply of western vaccines that will be produced in 2021. The divide is a diplomatic opportunity, and some foreign capitals are taking it.”

But the punchline here is, even in the face of a global pandemic, the most important motivation is profit as indicated here:

“Pfizer, Moderna too, they’re here to make a profit,” said Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Companies do not do diplomacy, in theory. They have short-term goals. So it’s very different when a vaccine is marketed by a government over a company.”

Even though the Moderna Vaccine was heavily subsidised by the US taxpayer.

Meanwhile, in another article South Africa leads backlash against big pharma over access to Covid vaccines Kaamil Ahmed writes:

“The domination of global medicine by major pharmaceutical companies needs to be confronted to provide fairer access to vaccines, a leading South African official has said.

The scramble over Covid vaccines should alert rich countries to the power of profit-driven companies that control production of crucial medicines, said Mustaqeem De Gama, South Africa’s delegate at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on intellectual property rights.

“While Rome is burning, we are fiddling around [waiting],” said De Gama, who called on nations where many of these pharmaceutical firms are based to stop blocking a patent waiver proposed at the WTO.

Backed by dozens of developing countries, the proposal, introduced by South Africa and India, argued that bypassing intellectual property rights would allow more of the world’s population to be quickly vaccinated by boosting production.”