Rich countries, with 14 per cent of the world’s population, have secured 53 per cent of the “Western” covid vaccines. Meanwhile you have to search hard for information on vaccines being produced or tested in other countries, including Russia and Cuba.
Almost all the Pfizer-Biontech vaccines will go to rich countries. The Moderna vaccine will go to rich countries exclusively; it is not even being offered to the poor. In fact nine out of ten people in poor countries may never be vaccinated at all.
The United States is sitting on vaccines, making sure no-one gets any as long as it needs them for itself. The European Union—priding itself on sharing vaccines—is actually hoarding; and while it has exported 34 million doses, most have gone to such places as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong—places that would have no problem obtaining or paying for vaccines.
According to the Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto, writing in the Guardian:
While western countries were barging ahead, stockpiling vaccine doses for themselves, China and Russia were practising vaccine diplomacy. China offered free doses of their vaccines to 13 countries; between the two of them, China and Russia have supplied more than 800m doses to 41 countries. No one imagines they do this out of charity, but it’s a clear, resounding sign of the changing world order. Eight hundred million to the EU’s paltry 34m. The US and UK have given nothing at all.
It was the hyper-capitalists who spread the plague, got rich off the vaccine, and now will heal comfortably, first in the queue for the best vaccines that they don’t even want. The poor who struggled to eat and survive, lockdown after lockdown, will wait in line and die. Covid-19 will destroy many things, but hopefully too the broken scaffolding of our moral imagination.
Don’t mention the profits that Moderna and Pfizer are in line for, while Astra-Zeneca charges poor countries multiples of what it charges richer ones. Don’t mention Africa or any peoples impoverished by capitalism; and, of course, don’t mention the disasters caused by our “humanitarian interventions” and sanctions.
Don’t mention that Israel deliberately denies vaccines to the Palestinians whose land it occupies, that the United States and Israel continuously bomb Syria (among other places), and that Canada bought enough doses to vaccinate every single Canadian five times over.
Do mention our “shared western values,” and everyone will be just fine.