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When the issue affects all, solutions should not be separate

When the issue affects all, solutions should not be separate

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With the Covid-19 pandemic nearing a year, vaccines – either tested and complete or half-baked – are getting ready for roll out. But it begs the question whether, despite the disasters over a year, the world has imbibed the lessons of mercy and humanity that it should have done through experience. We witness diverse responses ranging from the lack of diligence in preparing the vaccine, to the race for capturing the market and the 'vaccine nationalism' marked by neglect for the other. This raises the suspicion whether humanity is still trying to take a course of self-ruin. The prestige and profit prospects of being the first to hit the market has prompted pharma firms and governments to skip precautions required in the process. While the vaccine trials are bound to go through three stages of experiment, the race has been going on under an 'urgent' label in such a way that no one can be sure that it has undergone the trials in a meticulous manner. Thus now we have Britain ready to take the credit of giving the first injection expected to start today, Monday. For, the British government has given the 'emergency approval' for this in an apparent pursuit to beat the US and the European Union in the race. Britain, which had made big news with even the prime minister at one point turning his back to prevention, had not reacted to the pandemic in a scientific spirit in many ways; but when it came to starting the vaccination, it showed extreme haste. Although it is US and German firms that produced the vaccine being used in Britain, it overtook both countries in its consumption. Russia is sprinting for the second place, with the Russian-made vaccine to be injected there next week. In India, official machinery is being readied for the delivery chain of the vaccine. The prime minister himself has declared that as soon as official approval is accorded, the country will start distribution. Experts have given warnings about the counter results if safety is given a go-by in this rush. But reports indicate that under pressure of market factors and 'vaccine nationalism' many ignore it. After the initial announcement that the Oxford vaccine candidate was efficacious in 70 per cent of the people, the next report that there will be another global level testing, raised doubts about the initial results. In India, an earlier move to drop the third phase of trial had raised a similar anxiety. The net result of all this is that it will only raise scepticism about the actual vaccine that reaches the people.

On another level, Interpol has given a warning about the possibility of widespread fraud in the name of the Covid vaccine - by capitalising on the panic about the disease. Fraudsters and criminals are reportedly trying to infiltrate into the official distribution chain. To counter them all, official machinery should be not only efficient but also honest. During these times when even official establishments become agents of trickery, it is not easy to avoid the vaccine itself becoming a pandemic. And this is where market jealousies and vaccine nationalism complicate the issue. For things to go in a robust manner, those in power and the politicians should leave matters entirely in the hands of federal systems with the involvement of scientists and experts. In this process, the role of the governments is in setting up the machinery for distribution chain and vaccination, and in allotting the funds for that. Every technical decision, including the setting up of priorities, should be entrusted to the structural mechanisms responsible for them.

The Covid pandemic has affected the entire globe and has convinced humanity that no one can survive it on one's own and every one should act as mutual shield. This gives no room for isolated responses based on selfish interests, but instead craves for a worldwide collaboration. If there is any message from the pandemic, it is that protecting the other amounts to protecting oneself and that the means of survival is not by contest but co-operation. But unfortunately leaders have shown a propensity to cut off the root of global co-operation. Although the World Health Organisation formed an international forum of mutual co-operation 'Covax', many countries quit it citing one reason or the other. The US President Donald Trump quite early labelled the WHO as corrupt. President Putin of Russia also kept away saying that his country knows how to make its own vaccine 'Sputnik'. The Pfizer vaccine, said to be the front-runner in the race, will be workable only for the rich countries - the vaccine can be preserved at an unusually cold temperature of -70 deg Celsius, a refrigeration level no poor country can afford. Even the other vaccines which the poor nations can afford will take several years to reach their populations. But one lesson the Covid pandemic has taught us is that there is no escape for the rich alone. Even if a country becomes entirely free of the malady, the risk of relapse remain as long as the other countries are not infection-free. For an affliction that has affected the entire earth, the required preventive strategy is one that can apply to every one. 'Vaccine nationalism' and the 'emergency capitalism' that tries to make a quick buck in the name of the disease, will alike harm the required co-ordinated defence. And in this matter, it is the WHO, not governments, that should lead the world.

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TAGS:Covid-19 vaccine candidates Vaccine nationalism market competition Covid Updates 
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