‘Vaccine nationalism’ is a thing now, as exultations from
the UK come on the heels of the country’s approving the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech,
ahead of a similar approval by the US.
With the approval this Wednesday, The UK
became the first country to have approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use—an act
which hasn’t been lost on the country’s politicians, at least one of whom
claimed that UK could do it because they were a better country than the US.
UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told LBC on
Thursday that the country could do it ahead of the US and other European
countries because they were better than them.
“I just think we have the very best people in this country
and we’ve got the best medical regulators. Much better than the French have,
much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have,” the
government official said during the show.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in the UK
on Wednesday by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA),
paving the way for mass vaccination to start as early as next week.
MP for Reading West Alok Sharma in a tweet said the world
will remember the moment as the UK led “humanity’s charge” against the
“The UK was the first country to sign a deal with
Pfizer/BioNTech – now we will be the first to deploy their vaccine. To everyone
involved in this breakthrough: thank you In years to come, we will remember
this moment as the day the UK led humanity’s charge against this disease,” he
But the appropriations of the vaccine success by the
politicians didn’t go unchallenged, with some commenting that a proud “nationalism”
over the vaccine was misplaced at best.
Responding to the news tweet of Williamson, Jeremy Farrar,
Director of Wellcome Trust, said nationalism has no place in COVID-19 fight.
“Vaccine nationalism has no place in COVID or other public
health matters of global significance. Science has always been the exit
strategy from this horrendous pandemic – that science has been global & has
needed an unprecedented global partnerships & global financing,” he wrote
Another scientist criticized the vaccine nationalism saying
that vaccines are all about quality control and it was not a matter of “race”.
“We have to stop hailing these vaccines as extraordinary
scientific achievements tied to nationalism. The hard part of these vaccines is
the quality control, quality assurance, clinical trials under cGCP to ensure we
have safe and effective vaccines. BOTTOM LINE: THERE IS NO RACE,” tweeted
vaccine scientist Professor Peter Hotez, also a professor at Baylor University
RAND Corporation, a US-based thinktank, also discredited ‘vaccine nationalism’ as something which would lead to a lopsided inoculation
programme, with real possibility of poorer countries lagging behind in their
fight against the pandemic.
“Vaccine nationalism” could lead to the unequal
allocation of #COVID19
vaccines — and could cost the global economy up to $1.2 trillion a year in GDP,”it
wrote on Twitter with a graphic data of depicting the leverage some nations
have over others in acquiring of the vaccine.