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The breakdown of global COVID-19 vaccines and predatory capitalism Coronavirus pandemic news

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Vaccines have been a beacon of hope amid a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 2.4 million people and stalled global economies. They have been touted as a medicine that would put an end to the great physical, emotional and economic suffering caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

But as the spread of vaccines has weakened due to various anticipated and unforeseen circumstances, the light of this imaginary beacon seems to be fading. As a recent article in the leading medical journal The Lancet concludes, the new vaccines will make little sense to individuals around the world if they are not able to get vaccinated in a timely manner.

Months after the adoption of some vaccines for use, vaccination campaigns have been disappointingly slow and if deployment continues at the current pace, only some of the world’s richest countries are expected to achieve immunity before the end of the summer. Meanwhile, new mutations in the virus continue to emerge, calling into question the effectiveness of existing vaccines.

Some have blamed the vaccine breakdown on heavy government bureaucracy and anti-vaccine sentiment. But the root of the problem lies elsewhere. It is about a dysfunctional global economic system based on three ideological myths: that the private sector is the best at innovation; that unregulated markets are the best at supply and demand management; and that the result of globalization is fair to all.

Between pandemic and vaccinated vaccination attempts, these myths have begun to crumble before our eyes.

Myth One: The private sector is the best innovator

A fundamental myth of global capitalism is that private enterprise is the only effective source of innovation and progress. But Big Pharma has long demonstrated that this is not necessarily the case.

For decades, vaccines have been de-prioritized by the industry as not profitable enough. For example, despite the continuing deadly outbreaks of the Ebola virus in West Africa, there were no serious attempts to develop a vaccine against it until after the 2014 epidemic. of a COVID-19 vaccine focused primarily on the application of mRNA technology to drugs rather than vaccines.

The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines came only after considerable financial support from governments, combined with massive purchase contracts using taxpayers’ money. For example, US government agencies gave Modern only $ 2.5 billion just to help develop the vaccine and buy the doses.

That is, the public sector was a key driver of COVID-19 vaccine development and public funds are used to fund the process. In fact, pharmaceutical companies secured low-cost development and risk-free launch of a new product.

The claim that private companies are the best at innovation is further refuted by the fact that at least two state-owned enterprises, Russias Gamaleya Institute and Chinas Sinopharm, were successful in developing effective vaccines.

All of this will not call into question the efficacy of the available vaccines or the dedicated work of the researchers who developed them. Rather, it should be noted that privatizing the vaccine development effort is not only very costly and costly, but is also inefficient, as it prevents scientists from collaborating and sharing research to come up with the best possible vaccine.

Myth Two: The Invisible Market Hand is effective

Another capitalist myth is that competitive markets are the best regulators of supply and demand and the best at achieving optimal distribution of goods. In early 2020, we witnessed the dark side of this fable as countries began to override each other for vital medical devices, such as PPEs and ventilators.

Demand was high across the board, but supply only went to a few rich people, at the cost of many human lives. This is now happening again, as, in the midst of a heavy supply of vaccines, governments are trying to secure sufficient doses for national use.

Israel has achieved its spectacular vaccination rate by paying higher prices for vaccines. The US is trying to follow suit. Even within the European Union, where there was talk of a coordinated response and fair distribution of vaccines in proportion to the population of member states, it turned out that richer countries like Germany have managed to secure more vaccines for themselves.

If the current situation continues, where top bidders can buy as much as they want, even if it is more than they need, supply will continue to fall less than global demand. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called it vaccine nationalism, but what it really is is vaccine capitalism. Countries are rushing to surpass each other for vaccines because there is an inadequate supply and there is an inadequate supply because pharmaceutical companies are allowed not to share their inventions with the world.

As Scottish economist Adam Smith has pointed out, every trade secret is a form of monopoly, and in this sense, pharmaceutical patents enable suppliers to establish a monopoly. Keeping vaccines the exclusive intellectual property of companies makes placement not only very costly, but also inefficient, as it severely limits production capacity.

Myth Three: Capitalist globalization is right

The third key myth of late-stage capitalism, which is now unraveling portrayal as equally beneficial to all. But a temporary look at the global distribution of vaccines shows that so far this is not the case.

While Western countries are able to get vaccines, albeit at different rates, many other parts of the world have not even started their own vaccination campaigns. Even emerging economies, some of which served as testing ground for vaccines, are struggling with limited supply.

As a result of this global inequality in vaccine distribution, we are not only facing what WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has called a catastrophic moral failure, but also an inevitable global economic catastrophe. Economists are already warning that an unequal distribution of global vaccines would be far more costly for rich countries than a coordinated vaccine deployment.

If the current immunization inequality persists, placing vaccines in richer countries may become useless. Even if herd immunity is achieved in some countries, persistent outbreaks in others will continue to disrupt global travel and supply chains. One study suggests that if there is no serious global effort for a fair vaccination campaign, it could cost developed countries $ 4.5 trillion.

Immunity cannot function as a privilege of a few. Immunized rich countries may try to shut themselves off from the rest, but the sustainability of this global apartheid will be debatable and the human cost certainly terrible.

Disaster capitalism begets disaster

Canadian author Naomi Klein has famously defined catastrophic capitalism as a brand of predatory capitalism seeking to profit from natural or man-made crises. The aftermath of the current pandemic has allowed us to see this idea go further: while prey to catastrophe, capitalist forces can magnify it and create a new, much larger one.

In a globally interdependent economy dependent on labor movement and complex supply chains, the lack of vaccine coverage for significant parts of the global population means that the virus will have enough room to mutate, to avoid any newly created immunity and travel away. vaccines will continue to be developed, but given the delayed and uneven deployment, COVID-19 will always be a step forward.

This does not bode well for the future of the billions of ordinary people whose lives will be ruined by the virus, but it seems to go well for the rich who are currently making a COVID-19 outbreak.

If we are to end the pandemic, save lives, and prevent economic catastrophe for the most vulnerable, we must urgently review the mechanisms of catastrophic capitalization and ensure that vaccines are evenly distributed and anti-COVID measures implemented. effectively worldwide.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.



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