Will the quest for a vaccine turn into a race?
More than 200 teams worldwide are working on a coronavirus vaccination. An international donors' conference organised by the EU gathered 7.4 billion euros to make a vaccination, medications and test materials globally available. The US and China did not participate. There is growing concern in the media that competitive thinking could hinder research efforts.
Europe can compete
The idea of an EU-coordinated vaccine gives cause for hope, the daily Új Szó says:
“Can a development project run jointly by the rest of the world compete with Chinese state-owned firms and the mammoth companies of the US pharmaceutical industry? In any event this is an opportunity that must be seized and which could be hugely instructive. There may even be several vaccines within two years: cheap or expensive, effective or less effective, available to all or provided on a political basis. Hopefully, Europe will take the right path so that it can increase its influence and visibility in the world.”
Nationalist strategies are no solution
The Financial Times is alarmed at the extent to which nationalism is influencing the vaccine research:
“Countries including the US and the UK are providing support for researchers, companies and production within their own borders, sometimes accompanied by requirements to provide preferential access to their own citizens. Aside from the ethical questions such an approach throws up, it could also backfire. A country involved in the supply chain of a vaccine produced elsewhere might impose tit-for-tat restrictions. One country's 'national' vaccine could turn out to be less effective than alternatives in other geographies. Failing to include poorer nations early in immunisations risks infection bouncing back to richer countries.”
Lack of cooperation harms everyone
La Libre Belgique also warns against competitive thinking in vaccine research:
“Of course competition is detrimental to the losers, who are growing in number in today's world and who reproach themselves all the more the more people try to convince them that they could also be winners. But competition also harms the winners, who, despite doing their utmost to maintain the system that so favours their interests, are under constant stress to meet the challenges it poses. Here's hoping that a truly cooperative form of science will emerge in the post-crisis world, even if it is shaped by thousands of unkept promises!”