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Melinda Gates: We have a moral responsibility to make sure everybody gets COVID-19 vaccine

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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One of the biggest voices in the fight to crush the COVID-19 pandemic is speaking out against vaccine nationalism.

“I am deeply concerned whenever I hear about vaccine nationalism. I think we have a moral responsibility to make sure everybody gets a vaccine,” Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates told Yahoo Finance. “If there's an estimate that says that if only high income countries get a vaccine first, we're going to see twice as much death around the world. And we're going to have a much, much slower recovery of all of our economies, not just the middle and low income, but even the high income countries.”

Vaccine nationalism is the view that in response to pandemics or other health crises, countries put their own interests first instead of joining forces globally to tackle the problem. In effect, countries with the funds to do so hoard precious vaccines and crowd out less financially fortunate countries.

The problem here as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic is that wealthy countries such as the U.S. and U.K. have already purchased large quantities of yet-to-be approved vaccines from the likes of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. While that is great news for their respective populations, to Gates’ point it could lead to an uneven economic recovery process as less wealthy countries struggle to gain access to needed vaccines.

And this could have a very negative impact in 2021 and beyond as vaccines begin to be distributed.

Vaccine nationalism could cost the global economy up to $1.2 trillion a year in GDP, according to research from Rand Corporation. The research shows the U.S., the U.K., European Union and other high-income countries in total stand to lose about $119 billion a year if the poorest countries are denied supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine.

A worker packs boxes with dry ice as Brussels International Airport and its partners prepare a massive logistic operation of carrying new vaccines and vaccine candidates for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through Brussels International Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
A worker packs boxes with dry ice as Brussels International Airport and its partners prepare a massive logistic operation of carrying new vaccines and vaccine candidates for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through Brussels International Airport, in Brussels, Belgium, December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing its part to prevent this from happening.

On Thursday, the largest private foundation in the world said it will commit an additional $250 million to support the research, development and equitable delivery of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. It marks the foundation’s largest single contribution to the COVID-19 response to date.

The foundation’s total commitments to the global COVID-19 response now tallies $1.75 billion.

“Our whole goal is to make sure that these vaccines get out to low- and middle-income countries. So part of this money is going to be used on procuring 200 million doses of vaccines for low- and middle-income countries, and procuring 120 million of rapid diagnostic tests for low and middle income countries,” Gates said.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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