The number of cases is rising through the roof, just today (28th August) India reported 77,000 corona positive cases and everyone is waiting for the vaccine in a hope that things will go back to normal. Now, the normal is debatable but at least we will be able to go out, go to the office.

But what are the chances of vaccine reaching each and everyone once it is approved or declared safe? Will you get it? Who will be prioritised first? 

Will India have enough vaccine in stock to make it available for every citizen? Will only the rich or developed countries get the first access? Will we have to pay for the vaccine? All these questions linger inside everyone’s head.

While we try to make sense of everything happening around us, we are introduced to a term known as “Vaccine nationalism”.

What is Vaccine nationalism?  

Even before the end of the final stage of human trials, the United State has entered into a multi-billion dollar agreement with at least six pharmaceutical companies to supply vaccine. 

The agreements ensure 800 million doses of vaccine for a population of roughly 350 million, roughly more than 2 dozes for every American citizen. If these companies are successful in developing the vaccine, they will provide the agreed doses of the vaccine to the US before any other country.

Not just the US, Britain, France and Germany too have signed deals with vaccine manufacturers. The United Kingdom has entered into similar agreements with multiple companies to secure about 340 million doses, or about five doses per capita.

When a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens or residents and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries it is known as ‘vaccine nationalism’.

Should you be worried?

Let’s see what the World Health Organisation has to say about these deals. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, “We need to prevent vaccine nationalism. Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest.”

Basically the countries with deep pockets are hoarding the vaccine doses even before they are developed. What one should be worried about is that these agreements may make the vaccine inaccessible to the countries who do not have the money to bet on the success of a vaccine.

There is a limited capacity to manufacture the vaccine, and the wait for poor countries may get longer because the companies are bound to supply the vaccine to the richer countries first.

To make sure that the vaccine reaches everyone, WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi have come up with an initiative known as “Covax Facility”. The facility aims to procure at least two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of next year for deployment and distribution mainly in the low- and middle-income countries.