Sunday November 28, 2021

After the pandemic

September 25, 2020

What will the world look like once the Covid-19 crisis is over? And will it be over at any point in the near future? This was a question that came up strongly at the UN General Assembly meeting general debate, where nations from around the world demanded the development of a vaccine and equitable distribution, so that all people will be able to access it, no matter whether they come from a rich or poor nation. At the moment, one of the biggest problems facing the world is that rich countries have already bought up large shares of any vaccines that may be developed and will be marketed so that they obtain the largest portions of the substance which can save people from a deadly disease. The fact that Washington, Beijing and Moscow have refused to collaborate on collective action to save the world makes things even more complex.

Leaders from Africa, South America, the Pacific Islands and other countries have demanded that any vaccine be distributed in such a way that it reach all people. The challenge, of course, for the world is an enormous one; 7.8 million people need a vaccine all at the same time. As UN experts point out, such a situation has never risen before. This has been seen as the biggest crisis since World War II. What will emerge from it? The fact that more and more rich countries are joining an organisation which is to be known as Covax, signals a great willingness to help the world unite and to save poor people from an endless cycle of death and suffering. If this organisation works, it may make it possible for many more to obtain the vaccine than would otherwise have been the case.

The challenge is also a difficult one. The WHO is supporting Covax and trying to ensure distribution of any potential vaccine in a way that is not discriminatory in favour of rich countries. This is difficult and demanding. We will wait to see how much cooperation the world is able to display. The manner in which this happens may determine the shape of how the UN, and other similar organisations, is laid out in the future. The crisis we face today has to be solved. How this happens is now the critical question for almost every nation in the world; let us not forget how the African continent was treated and the delay in providing them with medicines that could treat the HIV virus.