US, China and the peculiar race for the coronavirus vaccine

Today, there is another competition on a global scale, chiefly between the two leading superpowers: the United States and China

The competition is over who would be the first one to come up with a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19)

Scientists are busy working tirelessly to come up with a vaccine

It is a race against time since people are dying all across the world every hour

Yet, the effort has been injected with nationalistic fervour

In 2017, there was a Chinese hit film called Wolf Warrior II, in which a heroic military scientist called Dr Chen developed a vaccine for a deadly disease called Lamanla, which was spreading across Africa

The epic was not lost on the Chinese people when the coronavirus hit the nation

So Dr Chen is back in the game

However, this time she is not as a fictional character but as a real one

Dr Chen Wei is a major general in the People’s Liberation Army

She is a virologist who leads the Institute of Bioengineering at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences

She is at the centre of the effort to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus

One thousand scientists are working on this vaccine and the issue is seen as a national security concern

Researchers affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences are working towards this goal in China

On the other hand, President Donald Trump has been talking to executives in private meetings about ensuring that the vaccine is developed on American soil

The aim is to make sure that the United States controls its supply

Some German government officials believe that Trump tried to lure a German pharmaceutical company called CureVac to do the research and production of the possible vaccine in the United States

The aim is to control the supply and hence the monopoly over profits

When small timers on platforms such as Amazon and eBay do price gouging of products such as hand sanitisers or masks, it is seen as a crime and efforts are made to bring them to justice

No doubt such activities are wrong

Taking profit advantage of something that is needed at a time of global crisis is immoral

However, the same profit seeking in times of crisis on a massive or national scale is not seen as being immoral

I can’t help but think of the allegory called Pirates and Emperors, which goes something like this

Once upon a time, the emperor’s army captured a pirate who was looting from the boats in a certain part of the sea

The emperor asked the pirate, “How dare you molest the sea?” The pirate said, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat I am called a pirate, while you do it with your large ships, you are called an emperor

” The two indeed were no different from each other, except in scale

The emperor and the pirate did the same stealing and looting but the pirate was a smaller criminal

The bigger criminal, the emperor, had the right to define himself as the emperor and impose that identity over others

He had that luxury and power

The pirate did not

During this pandemic, such a rivalry spurs the jealous guarding of the research being conducted to develop the vaccine

The lack of cooperation among the countries developing the vaccine is truly alarming and will only slow down the pace of developing this vaccine

More attention is being paid to profits and power than to the needs of the people

The other sad reality is that once a vaccine that is potent against the disease is developed, it will go in short supply because any country developing it would want to ensure their own people are treated first

This is no time for competition and rivalry

This is a global crisis

There is no shame in usual rivals coming together to fight this global pandemic because the virus is coming for all of us

The virus doesn’t discriminate based on nationality, culture, or any other factor

It has not spared Hollywood, sports personalities, or influential politicians

The effort should not be over who makes it first or who gets it first, but should be centred around how soon we can make it available for all the people across the globe

Because remember, even if this is about profits, the deserted streets, malls, offices, restaurants, airports, etc

impacts every economy and every business

 Cooperation and and dialogue between nations is the need of the hour if we truly wish to develop a coronavirus vaccine soon

Date:25-Mar-2020 Reference:View Original Link