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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchThe Tragedy of Vaccine Nationalism- Only Cooperation Can End the Pandemic

The Tragedy of Vaccine Nationalism- Only Cooperation Can End the Pandemic

Authors: Thomas J. Bollyky and Chad P. Bown

Affiliation: Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs

Date/Place: July 27, 2020/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis 

Word Count: 4000


Keywords: Vaccine Nationalism, Global Cooperation, Coronavirus



The authors open their article by criticizing the Trump administration that has implied that when the vaccines against the Coronavirus are found, Americans will have the priority. As governments are trying to lock in early access to these vaccines, there is no international commitment to distribute the vaccines in an equal and rational way although ending the pandemic will be in everyone’s interest. The authors name this as “vaccine nationalism” or a “my country first” approach. This will have consequences, including driving the prices of the vaccines and related materials. Although some rich countries will be affected by this, those most suffering will be the low-and middle-income countries. The authors refer to  forecasts that project “the Coronavirus pandemic could kill 40 million people and reduce global economic output by $12.5 trillion by the end of 2021.”  According to the authors, the US, India and China—all of whom are working on a vaccine—have declared that any vaccine will predominantly be for their own people. The United States also did this with remdesivir, the drug that showed effective treatment against COVID – 19, in which it bought all supplies and left nothing for the UK and EU. In this sense, the authors recommend global cooperation on vaccine allocation. But since most of the countries that are producing these vaccines are nationalist, this will be difficult to achieve. The authors close the article with a warning that in the case a country’s vaccine fails, that perhaps this will pressure reluctant leaders to cooperate.


By: Leyla Yildirim, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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