Global solidarity creates a healthier world; only collective alliances rather than an individualistic mindset can beat COVID-19
Even before the COVID-19 disaster, the world was experiencing the effects of drastic social and financial inequity. If we want to overcome a global pandemic, a pooling of resources is necessary. If one disadvantaged nation is ravaged by COVID-19, the virus only spreads. To both prevent and prepare for further crises, we must unite under the concept that no one is truly free until all are free.
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In the case of COVID-19, we have created a global society in which the phrase “every man for himself” is really a death sentence. In a world in which only a small percentage of the population even has the resources to manage everyday life, a global crisis calls for collective solidarity. Now that we have seen the rampant damage of COVID-19, which is not yet over, we cannot continue on pretending that another crisis will not find its way into our lives again. It seems that with the new information we have collected from this pandemic, now is the time to prepare for changes which will help make the world a better place in the future. In May 2020, the EU hosted a meeting to collect financial resources for COVID-19 research in order to develop a vaccine, but according to the Financial Times, only about $8 billion dollars had been raised. FT notes that the United States, India, and Russia did not contribute to this fund, and there is significant concern that wealthier countries will hoard resources to care only for their people. As FT points out, if a poorer country succumbs to COVID-19, then it is only a matter of time before the virus inevitably finds its way back through the borders of rich nations. The only way to defeat COVID-19 is through solidarity. Establishing solidarity between nations now will make way for a united world after the COVID-19 crisis is over. According to USA Today, we have seen the damage of nationalism during a crisis before. During the H1N1 crisis, Australia paid $100 million dollars to be stocked with enough vaccine doses for its entire population before any could be sent to the United States, also in dire need of help. Now, in the midst of the deadly coronavirus, the United States has denied interest in joining a global vaccine research team, for its own Operation Warp Speed. David Fidler of the Council on Foreign Relations warns that by doing this, the United States is turning its back on an “insurance” of partnership in an unpredictable time. A global team is stronger in numbers and, by sharing information in the spirit of solidarity, more likely to find an effective vaccine. Most importantly, a vaccine developed in alliance and evenly distributed, will bring a quicker end to the virus. Canada and Taiwan are some of the global leaders of solidarity against COVID-19. In May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already donated $850 million dollars to global vaccine research. While he pledges concentration on his own nation, he is firm in his stance that this must be a global effort, considering the level of social and financial inequality across the world. He reminds us that while we ourselves might have a plan to overcome a crisis, we cannot assume that our neighbor, figuratively speaking, has access to the same resources. They likely do not. And since nations with fewer resources to fight COVID-19 are at risk, it in turn creates risk for all nations. As an exemplar of a nation willing to combat this, Taiwan, with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases, and with the virus largely under control, has also committed to the global vaccine effort. Our world is one that suffers from inequality, where populations are disproportionately at risk, and each person’s action affects another’s life. If we want to move forward at all, a commitment to global solidarity through the end of COVID-19 and its aftermath is essential. If we can triumph over COVID-19 through solidarity, then that paves the way towards learning to work together globally to make the world a better place.
“Vaccine nationalism” refers to a hoarding of resources for one’s own nation, the prioritized population. While denying collaboration and solidarity during a crisis involves obvious danger, there are a few leaders who see the benefit of at least protecting their own first. For instance, the United States was the first to donate a substantial amount of funds to pharmaceutical company Sanofi, so CEO Paul Hudson confirms that the U.S. will be the first to benefit from their vaccines. Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, notes that while he has every intention of making vaccine doses accessible, most of the resources should go to the Indian population first. Nobody has denied interest in sharing their resources once they have cared for their population, but prioritization and efficiency seem paramount, and an expectation to direct attention internationally while one’s own country is suffering seems an unpopular choice. United States President Donald Trump has decided not to partner with global leaders on vaccine research and instead started Operation Warp Speed. The goal is to fuse the brainpower of the branches of the Department of Health and Services and of the Department of Defense, and to do so quickly. The federal government will supervise the research rather than a pharmaceutical company. The government now has the freedom to take “financial risk” by beginning the manufacturing process of a vaccine before it has been fully tested. If it passes the tests, they will make their way to the population far quicker than they would by average pharmaceutical company standards, who cannot handle the same level of financial loss. While at least some global collaboration seems important during a pandemic, there is demonstrated doubt that our world needs to become more transnational after we have defeated COVID-19. Delivering vaccines is necessary, but humanitarian intervention has been under scrutiny because it places the wealthier countries in an inevitable position of power to pick and choose just whom receives help. According to the Oxford Research Group, whether or not the United Nations intervened in a crisis was in part determined by the extent to which there was demonstrated “human suffering,” placing the UN in a position to define this term. While global solidarity remains important, a few nations are looking to invest in their own people first, especially when they understand their nation’s needs better than they do the globe’s.
Rejecting the premises