Many countries, especially the Western ones, ordered significantly more doses than required to vaccinate their entire populations.
The U.K. and Canada, for example, secured enough vaccine doses to vaccinate their population three to four times.
On the other hand, many developing countries did not secure any vaccine doses besides those they expect from WHO’s Covax program established to help the poorest countries.
In light of these events, WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged world leaders to prevent vaccine nationalism.
He stressed that, even though he understands the willingness of heads of state to vaccinate citizens of their countries first, the action against the COVID-19 pandemic can only succeed if taken collectively.
Along similar lines, many other experts pointed out that the only way to eliminate the disease is to eradicate it globally.
They believe that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
The situation got even more complicated as tens of millions of unused AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses are being held in the U.S. facilities while the jab is waiting for the FDA’s approval.
Some U.S. health officials expressed their belief that these doses should be distributed abroad to those who urgently need them. Others disagreed.
“Only the surplus will be shared with the world”
Official White House standpoint seemingly leans toward those who oppose vaccine internationalism.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that the U.S. would first take care of its own population and consider distributing its vaccines to other countries once enough U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated.
Those who think that countries need to prioritize their citizens usually point out that the vaccines are being paid by the taxpayers’ money from those same citizens.
Like President Biden, they may agree that other countries should receive aid only once the country that secured vaccines was fully vaccinated.
Blood clot issues recently associated with the AstraZeneca jab brought new controversies to the debate.
Many believe that the vaccine doses suspended in several European countries should be distributed to the poorer countries as it would be ‘better for these countries to have something rather than nothing’.
Yet, if the primary goal of vaccine internationalism is to show respect and compassion for other countries, it is unclear how the giving of potentially subpar jabs would correspond to any of these values.
On the other hand, it seems wasteful not to use the AstraZeneca vaccine doses that would mostly have no side effects and might prevent many severe COVID-19 infections.
It may be better to use these jabs than to leave them stored in some facility.
There is certainly no clear solution to any of these issues.
Unfortunately, the upcoming events are expected to complicate the situation further.