Competitive surge in nationalism is shaping the race to develop COVID vaccines

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Credit:  Sono Creative/Getty Images
Credit: Sono Creative/Getty Images

From the latex oozing naturally from the rubber trees in places like Vietnam, Malaysia and Liberia to vaccine ingredients made from a rare tree in Chile, the materials that will be needed to produce and distribute a [COVID] vaccine come from around the world.

Instead of a coordinated global effort among governments to prepare the world to produce and distribute a vaccine, the pandemic has set off a wave of “me first” health care nationalism. Early in the pandemic, nations scrambled to bring production “home” and to secure enough doses of a still-hypothetical vaccine for their own citizens first. From export controls on critical health care supplies to closing borders to the movement of people, many measures governments took to protect their own citizens have also made it more difficult to orchestrate a global response, according to a new episode of POLITICO’s Global Translations podcast.

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With pandemic threats emerging in the world on average every five years, [former Merck executive Jim Robinson] hopes the severity of Covid-19 will inspire a move to a more unified and collaborative global pandemic response by governments next time. “This outbreak won’t end until the world is vaccinated,” Robinson said. “Until we’re all protected, none of us are protected.”

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