Whose vaccine is it anyway?

Whose vaccine is it anyway?

As the novel coronavirus burns its way around the world, the race for a vaccine is now well underway. More than 100 Covid-19 vaccines are now in some stage of research, and there are eight candidate vaccines already in clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organization.

Of those eight, four come from China, two from the US, one is a collaboration of companies in Germany, China, and the US, and another is the product of a partnership between Britain's Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Companies in Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Australia, and Switzerland may not be far behind.


Later this year or sometime in 2021, there's a good chance we'll see a COVID vaccine successfully produced— in limited quantities. Someone will be first in line. Others who want to be vaccinated will have to wait, possibly for years, as more vaccine is manufactured, and distribution gets up to speed.

So...there's a major political, epidemiological, and even moral question ahead: Who should get vaccinated first?

Here are a few ways to answer that question.

The highest bidder. It's not cheap to develop and produce vaccines. If this vaccine goes first to governments or individuals who pay the most for it, the large profits can then be reinvested to produce more vaccine for more people more quickly. In this case, efficiency can save many more lives.

Citizens of the country where the vaccine was made. If you're French, and a French company develops the vaccine first, shouldn't French citizens benefit first? Why should a French vaccine go first to save Americans, Italians, Russians, Indonesians, Nigerians, or Brazilians?

Front-line workers in the country where the vaccine was developed. Keep the vaccine in-country to save the lives of our compatriots but give it to front-line health-care workers first. More lives will be saved as hospitals become safer. And let's reward their courage.

A small number of front-line workers in every country where COVID is present. Risk and need, rather than borders, should decide who benefits. All human beings are at risk, and the person doing life-saving work under life-threatening conditions across the border is a better choice than the healthy person inside our country.

A larger number of front-line workers, but only in the hardest-hit countries. That way we reach those fighting the biggest fires fastest.

Your Signal authors? No, we're not saving lives. But we're very nice people. Don't forget about us!

Bonus question: Who gets to decide this question? Should the decision on first dibs be made by the CEO of the company that gets there first? Or the government of the country where that company pays taxes? The World Health Organization? A vote of the United Nations General Assembly? Someone else?

Which option would you choose? In the end, much depends on whether we believe a vaccine for this virus should be considered a commodity or a public good. Our answer to THAT will determine how we define fairness in this case.

This may seem like an abstract question. But it's coming. Hopefully soon.

As digital technology reshapes the workplace, a move toward skills-based training and employment will unlock opportunities for companies and job seekers alike. While automation and AI are already taking on many routine tasks, demand for people with technology skills is rising fast around the globe. Getting the right people into the right jobs within the right organizations is one of the biggest challenges facing the world of work. So how can it be overcome? To read some recent skills-related stories, visit Microsoft On the Issues.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

More Show less

Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

More Show less

The end of "forever" in Afghanistan: The Biden administration says it'll withdraw all remaining US troops in Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted Washington to invade the country in the first place. It's unclear how the withdrawal will affect American plans to steer intra-Afghan peace talks in the right direction under the terms of a peace agreement reached by the Trump administration and the Taliban in May 2020. Trump promised to pull out next month as long as the former al-Qaida hosts kept their end of the bargain by not launching deadly attacks (spoiler alert: they have not). Biden's move honors his campaign pledge to end a "forever war" that has claimed more than 2,300 American lives and cost the US Treasury almost $1 trillion since 2001. However, critics fear that a hasty departure could leave the Afghans helpless to prevent the Taliban from returning to power, rendering the entire mission not only expensive, but ultimately pointless.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.

More Show less

750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

More Show less

In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

A children’s book on vaccination

GZERO World Clips