`There should be more positive actions from the US vying for the goodwill and admiration of the international community, in the same manner that China has been doing.’
IF there’s one good thing that the United States’ declared rivalry with China is achieving for mankind, it is that the US is now competing to match China’s “vaccine humanitarianism” and enjoining its Quad allies Australia, Japan and India to ramp up vaccine production and provide a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor nations.
China very early in the global public health crisis had espoused the humanitarian vaccination of countries that could ill-afford the vaccines. China’s President Xi Jinping, at a virtual speech at the World Health Organization in May 2020, affirmed that China’s vaccines, when ready, would be provided to the world as a “global public good.”
The Philippines is one of the earliest recipients of China’s vaccine humanitarianism as 600,000 doses arrived on Feb. 28, 2021 as donation. On March 29, another one million doses of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac arrived.
If the US and its Quad allies deliver on their agreed pledge made last March 12, to produce and donate a billion doses of vaccines, then the rivalry of the two superpowers is going to do a lot of good for the poor of the world, the safety and security of mankind and the early economic recovery of the global economy.
In October 2020, South Africa and India raised the question of vaccine intellectual property (IP) rights and its waiver to the World Trade Organization, to allow countries to produce vaccines freely to meet the oncoming vaccine supply crisis then. China, Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and other global south countries supported it, but the US, European Union and Britain opposed the proposal.
The WHO has been at the forefront of providing equitable vaccine distribution channels to the less privileged countries through the COVAX initiative, uniting countries in a single bloc to give them more power to negotiate with drug companies and with 92 low- or middle-income countries to have their vaccines paid for by donor states.
“No one is safe until everyone else is” as the slogan gaining currency goes, and the US and Quad are catching up, though hopefully it will not hit any snag in the complex four-country processing of the 1 billion doses and the investments and coordination required to produce the donations.
There should be more positive actions from the US vying for the goodwill and admiration of the international community, in the same manner that China has been doing. We are happy that both China and the US are moving forward, bringing a sense of community and solidarity back to the world.