The selfish reasons the United States and Europe must help poor countries deal with COVID-19.
The global vaccine rollout is failing. As if the more transmissible and possibly more deadly strains of COVID-19 now emerging from Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom weren’t bad enough, many Western countries are now struggling with dangerous vaccine shortages—sparking ugly fights among them over access to supplies. The picture is even bleaker in developing countries, most of which have yet to receive their first doses. Several new studies suggest that the delays there could last for years, further immiserating states already pummeled by the global recession and unleashing unrest and violence that, like the virus, could easily spread.
The Biden administration may feel that it has its hands full just (barely) coping with all the problems within the United States. That’s understandable. Unless Washington and its allies quickly do more to address what’s happening in the planet’s poorest places, however, virtually everyone everywhere will soon face a lot more pain.
Start with the picture in the West. For weeks now, the United States has been struggling with both supplies and distribution: Many states can’t get their hands on enough vaccines, forcing them to cancel tens of thousands of planned shots, and some of those that do have plenty have failed to administer what they’ve received.