Vaccinate The World

This article was written well ahead of scheduled publishing in order to accommodate my travel plans.

As of this writing it appears we are close to controlling the pandemic in America thanks to readily available vaccines free at the point of delivery. We will not be able to vaccinate the over 90% of the eligible population but we are vaccinating enough to “put a lid on things” in America. That is far from the end of the mission.

It’s been years since I’ve been on an airliner but I remember (yes, I sort of paid attention) that the pre-flight instructions included a segment telling those traveling with small children that in the unlikely event that the oxygen masks deployed to place one on their own face before placing one on the child’s. The theory is simple; the adult is the guardian and if they can’t function the child is defenseless.

The theory is similar here. As America was the arsenal of democracy in World War II it now must be the arsenal of vaccination. Having pretty much saved itself – or at least put itself in the position to do so- it must now turn its attention to those with fewer medical and economic resources. To a lesser degree, the same applies to the other advanced and wealthy countries.

I can just hear the chorus of naysayers now, why do we want to pay for those people? Well, the first reason is because it is our moral obligation but I realize that a sizable portion of Americans are amoral; generally, they call themselves Republicans so I will appeal to their economic side.

The world is interconnected. We are dealing with a global economy and no country, not even the richest and most powerful, is self-sufficient. So much of American life is computerized, (i.e. automobiles and iPhones), and many of the raw materials are simply unavailable in America. We also have an appetite for many foreign goods (i.e. wines and foods). We can do without them but we really don’t want to. Whether we want to admit it or not we also import brainpower. I feel sum and total America is number one but we are not in the top spot in everything and we don’t have an exclusive on “medalists”.

Certainly the people physically come into America and the goods aren’t transported or sold by some mysterious conveyance system, people are involved. People need to physically set foot here and that means they breathe the same air and occupy the same space we do. It is actually in our selfish self interest to vaccinate the global population.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy nor cheap, in fact it will be neither. The only logistically and economically practical solution is for the vaccine to get to the target audience not bring them here. That can happen two ways but more likely a combination of the two.

The first way is to simply ship mass quantities of the vaccine and in some cases medical personnel to administer it. The second is to manufacture the vaccines in the other countries. There is no one size fits all; the solution has to be tailored to the target country.

A country like India, despite its inequity, has rather advanced medical manufacturing capability. They may be a target for some sort of licensing of the manufacturing of vaccines. While very much a progressive I still have a lot of “capitalist genes” in me. The vaccines’ developers have to be economically protected/compensated. That will not be easy but it is neither insurmountable nor avoidable. There are several poor African countries that lack both the manufacturing and medical resources to vaccinate their populations. The solution is to ship the vaccine along with personnel to administer the doses.

One barrier that will be all but non-existent in the target countries is vaccine resistance. It appears that the only place where there is sizeable vaccine resistance is in America and today it is almost entirely on the right wing.

This was a case of America first but it is certainly not a case of America alone. We know what we need to do. The only question is will we do it and in a timely manner.

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