ONE Youth Ambassador Isa van Malenstein from the Netherlands is sharing why the world must come together to fight vaccine nationalism.
“Only together do we get COVID-19 under control.” That phrase, which we hear at every press conference, which pops up every few kilometers on signs above freeways, and is played regularly on the radio, has become too much for us. Yet, it hits the nail on the head: if a small group does not abide by the rules, we all suffer the consequences.
This solidarity approach to addressing the pandemic should also apply to the vaccination strategy for fighting COVID-19; not just within the Netherlands, but worldwide.
Just as we began hoarding toilet paper from supermarkets a year ago, the richest countries in the world have been hoarding vaccines for some time. This phenomenon is often referred to as “vaccine nationalism,” and the world was already warned about it in August 2020. Rich countries are buying up large quantities of vaccines, leaving much of the world empty-handed.
Canada, for example, has bought up so many vaccine doses that it can vaccinate its population five times. The EU also bought just over 400 million vaccines, assuming that everyone in the EU wants to be vaccinated and each vaccination requires two injections. The highest-income countries have now acquired 4.6 billion vaccines, even though those countries (the US, Japan, Australia, the UK, the EU, and Canada) represent less than 15% of the total global population.
The distribution of vaccines is not only a privilege of the richest countries, but it is also a political power play. Serbia was a perfect example of this recently. The EU, Russia, and China were all vying for the best diplomatic relationship with Serbia, and as a result the country was flooded with vaccines. There are so many vaccines available in Serbia, that there are even so-called “vaccination trips” being organized from other countries: people are going on vacation to Serbia to get the shot earlier.
So, even at the time of a crisis of this scale, “every man for himself” appears to be the dominant strategy in fighting the virus. With that, it seems we have lost sight of the real goal. Vaccination is the way to get us out of this pandemic, but only if we do it for everyone everywhere, and most importantly, do it fairly. It is expected that with the current strategy, the entire world population will not be vaccinated until 2023 or 2024. Therefore, if an entire continent and other large parts of the world do not get access to vaccines soon, we will all be left with one foot in this pandemic.
It is clear: the virus is not confined to country borders, so let’s not limit our solidarity there either.
Moreover, it is not only fair to give everyone access to vaccinations, it is also the only way to truly emerge from this pandemic. Because remember: only together will we get COVID-19under control.
Join us in telling governments to urgently share surplus COVID-19 vaccines with countries being left behind and stop vaccine nationalism so we can end this pandemic for everyone, everywhere. Sign our petition now.