Horrendous infection and death rates n the US and Europe account for such unapologetically self-serving attitudes. In that respect, poor countries that need help to fight the coronavirus are paying the price for weak and indecisive political leadership in rich nations that exposed their peoples to contagion. If the developed world can sustain strict control and prevention measures it could make room for fairer if belated distribution of vaccines. Meanwhile, inequality has led to tit-for-tat accusations of “vaccine diplomacy” against China in particular for providing vaccines to needy countries, and “vaccine apartheid” against the West over the inability of poor countries to obtain its vaccines on the same scale and terms.
It does no harm to China’s diplomatic interests to export or donate vaccines to scores of countries and donate millions of doses to Covax, the WHO facility for making and distributing vaccines. But it is shown up in humanitarian light by practices to be found in the West, such as hoarding surplus vaccines, blocking shipments and derailing efforts to bypass intellectual property regimes to make diagnostic kits and cheap vaccines.