LLast year, countries in Europe and North America managed to ignore warnings of a highly contagious pandemic – dragging their feet through implementation of protocols, delaying mandatory mask wear and mostly giving aid stingy with the millions of people struggling to survive in the lockdown. Although the virus originated in China, not the West, Western countries imagined that the virus would not affect them in the same way: Europe and the United States harbored the fantasy that they were the only ones. captains of a more sophisticated political and bureaucratic system that could not only withstand a global pandemic, but also remain largely immune to its threats. This year, those same countries have managed to outdo themselves by abandoning their role on the international stage – accumulating vaccines and practicing only the quickest and superficial pretexts of vaccine diplomacy. The wealthiest Western countries have wiped their hands of all responsibility for slowing down a pandemic they have helped amplify and spread.
Rich countries with 14% of the world’s population got 53% of the best vaccines. Almost all Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines will go to rich countries. The Moderna vaccine will go exclusively to rich countries; it is not even offered to the poor. In fact, nine out of ten people in poor countries may never be vaccinated at all. Washington is sitting on vaccines, making sure no one gets until the United States needs them. The European Union exported 34 million doses to, from all countries, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong – countries which have no problem obtaining or paying for vaccines. In fact, the EU has sent around 9 million doses to the UK, a country which, which is no longer part of the EU, also has an export ban. Moderna executives are unlikely to feel bad about the unvaccinated poor. The company forecasts sales of more than $ 18 billion for 2021, pushing Moderna to profit for the first time since its founding 11 years ago. Pfizer didn’t hurt too much either; they expect sales of $ 15 billion.
South Africa, Africa’s worst-affected country, buys AstraZeneca vaccine from Oxford at nearly two and a half times the unit price of European countries. AstraZeneca’s French division told reporters in November 2020 that it was capping the price per dose at € 2.50, but somehow European countries are buying doses below the cap and putting them in place. African countries far above. Canada bought more doses per capita than anyone else – enough doses to immunize every Canadian five times as many. But the entire African continent – home to 1.3 billion people – has received a total of 300 million doses. As of the last week of January, across sub-Saharan Africa, only 25 vaccines had been administered. Twenty five. The director-general of the World Health Organization warned that the world was on the brink of “catastrophic moral failure”. But the West crossed the threshold a long time ago.
Israel, which administers more than 150,000 doses of vaccine per day at the dawn of the new year, the world leader in the deployment of vaccines, does not vaccinate the Palestinian people it occupies on purpose and on purpose. Asked about it, the Israeli Minister of Health sniffed that Israel has no legal obligation to vaccinate Palestinians. What then were the Palestinians’ obligations, he asked, to care for dolphins in the Mediterranean? It’s too stupid – too cruel – a statement to answer. Yes, you have an obligation to the people you employ; yes, you have an obligation to “the sea”. Israel wants to donate its surplus Moderna vaccine to countries that have moved their embassies to Jerusalem (or have promised), such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Honduras. A virus, for some, is manna. Let the Palestinians die.
As Western countries forged ahead, racking up vaccine doses for themselves, China and Russia practiced vaccine diplomacy. China has offered free doses of its vaccines to 13 countries; between them, China and Russia have supplied more than 800 million doses to 41 countries. No one would imagine that they are doing this out of charity, but it is a clear and resounding sign of the evolution of the world order. Eight hundred million for the paltry 34 million of the EU. The United States and the United Kingdom have given nothing at all. This small vaccine nationalism irreparably harms the West, betraying its claims of magnanimity, inclusive global leadership and concern for global health.
Covid-19 has brought us new models: Vietnam, New Zealand, Iceland, Rwanda – smaller countries, countries in difficulty, poorer countries. These countries have protected their populations, they have implemented protocols, they have saved lives. Until July 2020, according to the New York Times, Vietnam, a nation of 97 million people, was the largest country in the world not to have confirmed a single death from the coronavirus. As of November 2020, it had registered just over 1,000 cases. On the flip side, a year after the start of the pandemic, half a million Americans have died from Covid-19, more Americans than combat deaths in World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War. combined. Yet even as his country suffered and struggled, the mighty power still found time to bomb Syria. Joe Biden is not announcing a new start in American politics; it is a continuation of destructive and reckless American power. Trump, Biden, and Obama are all custodians of a power that has no funds for health care, no money for stimulus checks, but is rich in bombs and weapons, with money. money for war.
A third of US military personnel refused to take the Covid vaccine, hesitant and suspicious. It’s especially ironic that the very organization that had no doubts about invented weapons of mass destruction grapples with skepticism about a vaccine. The same organization that has shown no concern over the specialized brutalities of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo is now crippled by the ethical dilemmas of the anti-vaxxer movement. Soldiers in the world’s largest and most sophisticated military choose to do nothing at all while hundreds of millions of people in the non-Western world do not have the luxury of questioning a potentially life-saving vaccine – it is not even offered to them.
It was the hyper-capitalists who spread the plague, got rich off the vaccine, and will now heal comfortably, first in line for the best vaccines they don’t even want. The poor who struggled to eat and survive, lock after lock, will line up and die. Covid-19 will destroy a lot of things, but we also hope for the shattered scaffolding of our moral imaginations.