The government’s bungling efforts so far have led to a growing perception that it is hypocritical, unsympathetic and disconnected from the reality on the ground. A coherent strategy is needed combining sensible health, social and political responses.
Wealthy nations and big pharma must realise that their inaction on vaccine equity will cost lives, but action will cost them almost nothing. If they continue to hoard vaccines, they are undermining the fundamental principles of their rules-based world view.
If more countries follow China in tying entry to specific vaccines, the existing vaccine ‘spheres of influence’ could easily coalesce into opposing blocs. To avert this outcome, the world must adopt universal vaccine approval and efficacy standards.
Nations looking to safely open their borders must have frank private discussions followed by full transparency, and prioritise public health.
With no end in sight until a Covid-19 vaccine is developed, here are three ways governments can restart their economies and societies as quickly and safely as possible.
Politicising an outbreak is irresponsible. Viruses have no passports and those who want to travel will find a way, says Swee Kheng Khor.
Interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad currently has no cabinet but Malaysia’s health system is resilient enough to excel despite the upheaval.
Fighting a species-level threat like Covid-19 requires the best brains from disciplines as varied as chemistry, AI, sociology and psychology.
This current outbreak will burn itself out eventually, but it won’t be the last one our world has to face. More science and truth is needed if we want to triumph quicker next time, says Dr Swee Kheng Khor.