Some Canadians are leery about taking any of the Covid-19 vaccines as they are worried they might not be as safe as advertised. On the other hand, many of us are worried about not getting the Covid-19 vaccines fast enough. In fact some of us think our government has done a poor job of securing enough vaccines. We look jealously at friends in the US who already have had their vaccinations. 3 of my friends are vaccinated and getting out and about again. But jealously will get me nowhere.
I have been thinking a lot about vaccine ethics lately. There is no reason in the world why we are justified in getting vaccines ahead of anyone else.
Then I read recently that according to the WHO until recently 25 vaccine doses were administered in all of the poor countries combined, while in the wealthy countries, such as Canada, 39 million doses had been given. And we thought it was bad when people were hoarding toilet paper. The rich countries don’t recognize it yet, but this is not good for any of us.
I read an interesting article in the Winnipeg Free Press by Lindsay Glassco the president and CEO of Plan International Canada.
where she said,
“It shouldn’t be about winning the vaccination race, but rather ensuring we all cross the finish line. It’s been more than a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In that time, the virus has exacerbated long-standing inequities and deepened global power imbalances. It has also revealed our interdependencies and the fragility of our global systems.”
Hoarding vaccines is a lot worse than hoarding toilet paper.
One thing that has become difficult for us not to learn is that during an international pandemic borders are ephemeral and lose much of their significance. No country can keep out the coronavirus or escape its deadly and costly consequences. I remember when Donald Trump seemed to suggest that the US might be able to keep its cases of Covid-19 to less than a hundred! Now they have had more than 500,000 deaths from the virus. How quickly times changed.
All of us must understand that we are citizens of the world. We are all linked and what happens in distant countries can have a profound effect on us. As Glassco said,
“The interdependencies that make up our global fabric are more evident than ever, because we are witnessing first-hand what can happen when they are affected, at local, national and global levels. Disruptions to supply chains, closed borders and restricted freedom of movement are a few examples.”
Fragile health systems are likely to affect us no matter where they are found. It’s like a dyke. If the hole in the dyke is in front of your neighbour’s house it won’t matter. You will be deluged too. This is difficult for many of to comprehend. We are accustomed to live in a society where we think as long as we are secure in our own welfare we have nothing to fear. Many of us have started to understand how wrong that it. It’s a terrible platitude, but we actually are all in this together. For example, if our health care system were to get overwhelmed, we would all pay a huge price.
As Glassco said,
“Political borders may separate countries, but they are highly porous. We have seen that the impacts of a fragile health system in one country will inevitably spill into others — damaging the health of many and eventually the global economy.”
For example, a new virus appeared in far off China, and within weeks, the entire world was deluged with deadly cases of Covid-19. We were not immune. We are not an island. We are in this with everyone else. As Glassco said,
“We all now recognize how much healthy economies depend on healthy societies. Without a strong health system to help people recover and return to work, their economic contribution halts — both locally and globally — and the effect on global trade worsens.”
This is inevitable. We must act accordingly. Even capitalism cannot avoid this.