Vaccine Patriotism vs. Vaccine Globalism
When the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines first proved their efficacy, preventing nearly 95% of coronavirus infections in those who got the shots in test trials, a vexing issue immediately arose.
Who should get priority in receiving these life-saving shots?
Generally speaking, the answer, while differing slightly from state to state, was that those most vulnerable to the virus, and those most vital to battling it, should be inoculated first.
The most vital were doctors, nurses and emergency medical personnel in hospitals receiving infected patients. The most vulnerable were the elderly in nursing homes with comorbidities and compromised immune systems who would be the least likely to survive an infection.
As the age for early inoculations dropped from 75 to 65, and then 50, and communities began to be vaccinated in greater numbers, a new issue arose: race. Blacks, peoples of color and the poor were not receiving inoculations at the same rate as the white and wealthy.
Efforts were made to rectify any such inequity.
However, almost no voice arose to say the world's poor should be inoculated at the same time and at the same rate as Americans -- with vaccines Americans had invented and produced.
That role has now been filled. In The Washington Post of April 6, Darren Baker, President of the Ford Foundation, writes: "An equitable vaccine rollout must prioritize the most vulnerable around the world."
"Vast disparities are emerging in vaccine access -- both within countries and between them," says Baker, "especially for Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities.
"Within countries, the gaps are stark. In the United States... White people remained nearly two times more likely to be vaccinated than their neighbors of color at the end of March. In Brazil, Indigenous populations are 10 times more likely to die of covid-19 than the general population... And in India, many members of poor Muslim and Dalit communities are denied access to the limited vaccine supply that is available...