There may also be another disparity. There are many people who, even if you offer them the vaccine, will not take it. And that’s partly because of mistrust. There is a much higher level of mistrust among Latin Americans and blacks, in part because of historical abuse.
Q: How do you see mistrust affecting global disparities in immunization globally?
A: When we think of global mistrust, part of it may be the way the pharmaceutical industry prices things and the way they hold patents. Some countries may be thinking, “These American or European companies are really trying to sell us their expensive vaccines. But we can’t really pay them for our people because they’re patented, and we’re not allowed to. make it a generic version. “They might think that ‘these companies are just trying to take advantage of us.’ And there have certainly been examples of low income countries that have been exploited by the pharmaceutical industry.
In Indonesia, for example, this happened with H5N1. Every time there’s an outbreak, if you’re a member of WHO, you send samples to a WHO lab and they try to find out about that particular virus or disease. Based on the genetic material sent from Indonesia, scientists developed therapies for H5N1 and tried to sell them back to Indonesia. Then Indonesia was like, “OK, those were our samples. Shouldn’t there have been collaboration? You use them to sell us drugs. “
Q: Does the United States have a moral obligation to send people to other countries to help with immunizations?
A: One of the problems is that we are not able to train enough people in the localities. For Covax or other types of international collaboration, it’s not so much about sending people out as “how do you help them build their own infrastructure?” Even financial resources for training courses or other types of means to strengthen their own human resources. Because you can imagine we would go, then we would go, and it’s not better in terms of infrastructure.
Q: How would it affect high income countries if other low income countries don’t get their vaccines until later? Recent research indicates, for example, that if poor countries do not get vaccinated, it will disrupt everyone’s economy.
A: While it is always likely that on a human level, people in the most vulnerable countries will suffer more, the inequitable allocation of vaccines will certainly disrupt the supply chain for all, including – perhaps even most of all – the richer countries that have come to depend on a good market. sources of work. If the supplier countries have a lot of sick people or have to close their doors, [there are] no worker to process or transport the raw materials, nor to manufacture and deliver the products. People in these countries are also unable to travel or spend money, which can also significantly affect international hotel chains, airlines and hotel industries.
This would also apply in a high income country. If undocumented workers, farm workers, homeless people and others in low-paid jobs can’t get vaccinated, they can’t work to keep the supply chain running. Restaurants, entertainment industries, etc. would therefore suffer. If they can’t pay the rent or the mortgage or have the extra money, that also affects the rest of the economy.
This story is part of the Pandemic technology project, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.