Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The number of COVID-related deaths continues to rise, especially in developing countries like Brazil, where deaths have topped 400,000, while India recently saw 400,000 new COVID cases in a single day. These grim statistics are due to new mutant strains, which have spread rapidly in areas where residents are both poor and in poor health, and where sanitary conditions and local infrastructure are underdeveloped. Major actions are required to slow down and reverse the deadly cycle of death and destruction in these and other places. But what course to take?
To make an appropriate response, it is first necessary to understand how the crisis in developing countries arose. Part of the problem lies in a chronic shortage of vaccine supplies, but much of that shortfall is due to the slow and archaic government systems of distribution, which are often broken (if not corrupt) at every level. The odds that any government can overcome the problematic vaccine shortage by relying on the same officials, programs, and techniques that created the shortage in the first place are slim indeed. A total revision of national programs, preferably with a healthy dose of privatization, is the first priority.
However, many commentators are demanding another approach, calling on wealthy countries like the United States to ease the current vaccine shortage by removing patent protections that private firms have on their vaccines. Thus, Georgetown’s Matthew Kavanagh and Madhavi Sunder, writing for Bloomberg Law, have recently insisted that President Biden “must push drug firms to share science with the world.” Their argument starts with the tragic summary from the WHO that speaks to a colossal failure in the current distribution system: “More than 700 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 87 percent have gone to high-income or upper-middle-income countries, while low income countries have received just 0.2 percent.”