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Towards an international cooperation to defeat COVID-19

Towards an international cooperation to defeat COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases are reaching the 40 million-threshold and more than one million deaths across the globe, efforts are being intensified to develop a vaccine to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Frantic efforts underway to develop a vaccine

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc unabated, the world’s major countries have been endeavoring to develop a vaccine by pumping millions of dollars into medical researches or striking deals with potential producers of the vaccine to immunize their populations. However, the developed nations have made it no secret that their citizens will be prioritized once a vaccine is found, which leaves developing countries at the mercy of the deadly disease.

WHO issues a stern warning!

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a stern warning that plans by developed nations to hoard the vaccine rather than share it stand to jeopardize efforts to curb the pandemic. The WHO had an Aug. 31 deadline for wealthier nations to join the “COVAX Global Vaccines Facility” for sharing vaccine hopefuls with developing countries. WHO Director General, Tedros Adhano said he sent a letter to the WHO’s 194 member states, urging participation. 

What is COVAX?

The COVAX Facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

So far, the COVAX facility has attracted interest from 92 of the developing countries hoping for voluntary donations and 80 wealthier countries.

Tedros was recently quoted as saying: “We need to prevent vaccine nationalism. Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest.”

Tedros’ passionate call for nations to join COVAX comes as the European Union, Britain, Switzerland and the United States strike deals with companies testing prospective vaccines. Russia and China are also working on vaccines, and the WHO fears national interests could impede global efforts.

“My nation first” approach

Harvard Business Review indicated that instead of working together to craft and implement a global strategy, a growing number of countries are taking a “my nation first” approach to developing and distributing potential vaccines or other pharmaceutical treatments.

Implications for the least developed nations

Least developed nations are already grappling with the adverse ramifications of the pandemic that have affected lives and livelihoods in no small measures. Reports have emerged that the global pandemic is pushing about 40-60 million people into extreme poverty.

The United Nations has reported that Covid-19 threatens to undo progress achieved towards sustainable development by the least developed countries (LDCs) over recent decades. “Any further obstacles mean the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will almost certainly be missed without far-reaching policy response. This Policy Brief reviews some of the main health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19 on LDCs and makes a series of policy recommendations,” the global body has warned.

Collective international effort to combat the disease

Vaccine nationalism will not serve any purpose simply because no country will be immune to the disease if others are not. It’s a simple equation. Major countries of the world must recognize that helping developing countries with the vaccine is not an act of magnanimity, rather it will serve the collective interest of the world. There must be a collective and collaborative effort to combat the deadly virus instead of individualizing an issue that has affected every corner of the world.

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