Vaccine Apartheid

Photo by Artem Podrez on

The issue of worldwide vaccine supply in a pandemic is a moral as well as economic and scientific question. Viruses do not care about borders or bank accounts. As long as there are available hosts, the virus will multiply itself and be ready to infect others. The consequences of this will result in wasted life and hospital resources. Prevention, in the form of a vaccine, can save both.

COVID-19 has killed over 2 million people as of this writing. Many more are expected to die or suffer some sort of harm before the pandemic is through. President Biden promised to put out at least 100 million vaccination doses in 100 days here in the United States. But that still won’t get the country to herd immunity. Still, according to the same source I just cited, the Trump and Biden Administrations have bought 600 million doses from private companies that make vaccines.

What about other countries? Right now, the answer is that they have to pay more for the vaccine than North American and European countries. Even though these countries make less money. And they have large amounts of coronavirus cases. Countries that make less money won’t be able to get their people vaccinated for many years to come.

Worse, this entire state of affairs isn’t accidental. Turns out Bill Gates, through his foundation, helped AstraZeneca pocket a vaccine developed and pledged for free by Oxford University. I can’t stress how messed up this is. Billions of people are going to be put at risk because a free vaccine got put behind a prohibitive paywall. These same billions of people would have been better off if the Gates Foundation never existed (though, to be fair, it’s hard to say whether someone else would have stepped in to make sure poor people can’t catch a break).

The fact that vaccinations will be given with a thought to the wealthy first is more than shocking, or disappointing. It’s venality in all its worst forms. Billions of people need access to them, or else we shouldn’t bother at all.

This whole pandemic and how it’s been handled is yet another example of how the economically endowed benefit at the expense of others around them. Many of the people reading this live in allegedly “civilized” and “free” countries. Is that the case, when these same countries will withhold salvation at the expense of those that can’t pay?

The pandemic is a life or death issue, and holding it over the heads of others is as stupid as it is execrable. At some point, people of the world will figure out that they are better off dead than at the mercy of rich people who can’t even find their country on a map. What do they think will happen when they figure this out?

The answer to that question is scary for everyone.