By Peter Loftus and Drew Hinshaw
Pharmaceutical companies are bracing for export bans on future coronavirus vaccines and spreading production across different continents, on early signs of a high-stakes geopolitical scramble to secure supplies for a scientific breakthrough that could confer enormous economic and political power.
The resulting picture is what public health experts call “vaccine nationalism,” as the international pursuit for a desperately needed shot shifts into a contest of which world power can immunize its population first. A coronavirus vaccine would be a monumental prize for the first country able to manufacture it at scale, a civilizational triumph comparable to the moon landing. It would allow the winner to revive its economy months ahead of others and then select which allies get shipments next, centering the global recovery on its medical output.
Governments in Europe and Asia have, at times, sent conflicting messages on how aggressively they will reserve any vaccine produced on their soil. But most of the leading pharmaceutical companies developing front-running candidates anticipate that when a vaccine does prove effective, countries will block exports, just as many did with surgical masks or experimental drugs. Rather than concentrate production that could be trapped inside borders, drugmakers such as Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc. are preparing factories on different continents to produce in parallel.
“Everybody’s protecting their own,” said Chief Executive John Chiminski of the New Jersey-based multinational pharmaceutical Catalent Inc. His company provides some of the world’s limited capacity for a vaccine production step called sterile vial filling, and is preparing its factories in Indiana, Wis., and Italy to produce multiple potential vaccines. “All of a sudden, these are coveted assets.”
The World Health Organization has asked for any future vaccine to be swiftly exported first to hospital workers around the world, then to all people in need, everywhere. “There should not be a divide between the haves and the have-nots,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters last month. Some drugmakers say, left to them, they would prefer to see hospital workers immunized first.
The best of the Muslim Times’ collection for war against Covid 19:
In this day and age, understanding bacteria and viruses and developing vaccines are national security issues. In my view sizable part of every country’s defense budget should be spent in these pursuits rather than making tanks and other weapons.
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The Muslim Times has the best collections in the war against Covid 19 as we are collecting from all the established sources
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