Competition for first access to coronavirus vaccine could harm public health, experts say

Political risk experts are warning that the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19 and nationalism surrounding that search could ultimately hurt public health and the economy, CNBC reports.

Analysts with the Eurasia Group, a firm that  helps investors and business decision-makers understand the effects of politics on the risks and opportunities in foreign markets, said in a note that there will be a battle for access to a potential vaccine to prevent illness from the new coronavirus that will continue into 2021 or 2022.

Already, governments are attempting to lay claim to early access to a potential vaccine. In the U.S., the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority has invested in several vaccine candidates to help reduce financial risk for the companies developing them and to "lock in priority access to a successful vaccine," the analysts said. 

The Canadian government has entered into a deal with a Chinese pharmaceutical company to develop its vaccine for clinical trials in Canada, which gives the country "an inside track on access," the analysts said.

Countries will engage in "aggressive procurement efforts with significant political, economic and public health implications," the analysts wrote. "Existing international institutions and agreements will struggle to minimize this 'vaccine nationalism.'"

Ian Goldin, PhD, professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and former vice president of the World Bank, told CNBC that though a certain amount of competition is healthy, "you don't want to put all your vaccine development eggs into one basket because it might not work."

If the vaccine is not distributed to those who need it, the global economy will suffer, Dr. Goldin said.
Additionally, if the virus mutates in parts of the globe where the vaccine is not available, global public health would be threatened. and even those who receive the vaccine may be in danger, Dr. Goldin said.

Read the full article here.

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