The Greater Good Depends on Ending the Pandemic Everywhere
The world is on the brink of failing a critical test: the one measuring whether the international community is willing or able to end a global pandemic without leaving anyone behind. Wealthy countries have bought up vast vaccine supplies, leaving poorer ones to cope with extreme scarcity. An international initiative known as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) aims to distribute vaccines widely and equitably, but it is short of funds. At best, COVAX will reach only a small portion of the populations of low-income countries this year. The South African government has aptly warned of a coming global “vaccine apartheid.”
There is still time to manage this differently. Wealthy countries have a moral duty to help distribute vaccines. It is also in their economic interest. Instead of hoarding supplies, these countries should reallocate doses to low- and middle-income countries and provide funding to ensure that the most vulnerable populations—including minorities and stateless people—and, ultimately, entire populations are immunized, regardless of income.