Wealth one may have ,yet health is not guaranteed, especially in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. What started in China is everywhere now. What began in India, the Delta variant, is also in Britain and has been found in the United States, too. Vietnam now has a new strain of the COVID-19 virus. The virus is in a race for survival against humanity’s efforts to quell it.
Every day, I meet Americans thrilled they are protected with two doses of a COVID vaccine, when billions across the world cannot get one dose of any vaccine, effective or not (”US senators announce vaccine donation while visiting Taiwan,” June 6). I see pictures of Americans who have thrown away their masks, frolicking on beaches, released from the bondage of lockdowns and quarantines. Not many seem worried that most of the world is unvaccinated due to global inequity in vaccine manufacturing and distribution, or that this inequity could have drastic consequences with a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S.
The lack of vaccines in the developing world has other downstream effects. India is the pharmaceutical manufacturer of generics for the world. If India is being decimated by SARS-CoV-2 and there are prolonged lockdowns there, then the generics pipeline will get clogged. Vietnam, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian nations manufacture clothes for the world. With catastrophic SARS-CoV-2 in those nations, that pipeline too could slow down.
The example of the HIV/AIDS virus is before us. So many perished globally, unnecessarily, from this virus because patents delayed the dispensation of cheap generics that would have saved them. Pfizer’s excuses for not lifting its COVID vaccine patent and sharing its technology sound hollow to me. This is neither the time for greed nor the time for nationalism.
We should also ask and answer the following questions scientifically and fairly: Should people in the global North be vaccinated with two injections of an mRNA vaccine if they’ve already had COVID-19, and should people in the U.S. get their second vaccine after 12 weeks instead of after three weeks, so doses can be spared for global vaccination efforts?
We are interdependent when it comes to trade and in a pandemic we are facing a common global threat. It is in the best interest of rich nations to address vaccine inequity fast, correct it and make sure that the world is vaccinated.
Usha Nellore, Bel Air
Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.