One Man’s Opinion, “Sharing Means MORE Than Caring,” Tuesday, April 13, 2021
With all the challenges we face as a nation, I find myself often debating with others the merits of foreign assistance, aid, and U.S. foreign policy. As I try to explain and remind folks, it is not all that really unlike your own business and social networks. Nation’s do favors for and support the nations and neighbors who support and assist them.
But as it relates to a global pandemic, sharing information and other resources means more than caring. When the novel Corona Virus of COVID19 was first being identified, China did share the genome data of the COVID19 as early as January of 2020 with the United States and other global health organizations. That early access to genetic coding of the virus allowed researchers across the globe to get a jump start on vaccines as well as anti-viral treatments.
Giving credit where due, President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed anticipated that several global pharmaceutical giants might be successful with different versions of vaccines, emerging from multiple expedited Clinical Trials. But at that time, there was little way to know which vaccine might be most effective, emerge first from Clinical Trials or clear the regulatory hurdles of even Emergency level approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And with three vaccines now in use across the nation, two-stage vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and a one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, at least two more are awaiting final FDA approval in the wings. The federal government pre-ordered and purchased a combined nearly 900-million of the final approved doses. This is of course enough doses, depending on which vaccine, to inoculate most of our nation twice.
Why the over-supply? Particularly given ongoing vaccine hesitancy among millions? As of the week of April 12, approximately 28% of eligible Americans (more than 100-million) have been vaccinated. By mid-May, the White House is forecasting that vaccines will be available for inoculation by EVERY American age 16 and over willing or wanting to be vaccinated. Where demand may currently exceed supply in urban areas and under-served populations and communities, there are also areas of the United States at present where vaccine supply is in abundance, and the takers are few.
COVAX is a plan for vaccine distribution across the developing world, with 92 member nations. So far during this pandemic, nearly 38-million vaccine doses have been administered in more than 102 nations, via COVAX. That is the good news. The bad news is that these nations have a combined population of well over 1-billion.
Vaccine shortages are also not solely the province of poor and under-developed parts of the globe. To our north, Canada has no domestic production facilities for manufacturing the vaccines needed. With a population of closing on 40-million, predominantly clustered along and within 100 miles of the U.S./Canadian border, Canada is finding the global market in short supply, and despite its vaunted single-payer health care system, a shortage of all vaccines is impacting almost every Canadian province. British Columbia and Montreal are both becoming hot spots for a Brazilian variant of COVID19, which some of the vaccines already found to be less effective at limiting transmission of that mutation. The CDC has issued a U.S. travel advisory against travel to all Canadian provinces.
NOT shutting down the spread of this pandemic and COVID19 variants in Canada will soon become a U.S. problem, whether we like it or not. As troubles have been festering on our southern border, particularly with the arrival of record numbers of unescorted children, virus infection rates are also spiking there. Mexico received several million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine from the U.S., a vaccine still awaiting U.S. FDA approval, but which also received a return promise of additional assistance with the crowds gathering at our border from the Mexican government. As I said above, good neighbors help good neighbors.
To reach herd immunity here in the United States, we will need higher rates of vaccination. To corral this virus and its variants, we need to do more to stop spread to host bodies across the globe. And THAT will mean sharing vaccine supplies. So, as Mom always used to say to me as a child, ‘sharing means caring,’ in this instance it also means LEADING. Though the origin of this virus remains a subject for debate, China clearly led the world into this, let’s be the United States of America which we all aspire for us to be, and help lead the world OUT of this darkest day and night.