The production of Covid-19 vaccines was all anything wished for in 2020. However, 2021 was reflective of the disconnect between the production and distribution of vaccines. Set against the backdrop of inequality in wealth and generic undertones of racism, the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines truly signifies a return to normalcy, just not in the way we were hoping.
On June 10th, Joe Biden purchased 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines with the intention of donating them to countries in need. Though this donation seems benevolent on the face of it, it reveals murkier intentions.
Though the Pfizer vaccine is considered to be one of the most potent American vaccines, it failed to secure that title worldwide. The steady production and distribution of alternative vaccines produced in the East garnered greater demand than any American vaccine had, especially in areas that are customarily dominated by the US. The potency of vaccines and the significance they play in helping the world get past Covid-19 has changed this vaccine from a mere injection to political currency. Currency that the US lacked in third world countries.
America’s decision to donate Pfizer vaccine is, therefore, unsurprising. This donation is simply an elaborate scheme created by the US to continue its political dominion over these third world countries. Though it may seem unethical to perpetuate this culture of quid pro quo, it is merely history repeating itself. Third world countries have always been handed the short end of the stick – especially when it comes to medical emergencies.
The dominance of Western media ensures that world issues are only relevant so long as the West is affected, and once the West has recovered, the problem no longer matters. This trend is not new. It is normal. So, while the percentage of vaccinated people are on the rise in Western countries, third world countries will continue to wither away in the mess that was wholly exacerbated by the same countries who now praise themselves for coming out stronger. The sheer irony does not go unnoticed.
Third world countries have always been prejudiced against in a manner that threatens their livelihood – Covid-19 is no different. Not only did Intellectual Property laws prevent them from producing cheaper vaccines, but the inherent inequality of wealth between countries meant that stocks for vaccines were sold out before countries could even begin to bargain. The act of leaving these countries to fend for themselves, as previous Covid-19 decisions have managed to do, signals a return to normalcy for citizens in these less economically developed countries.
Given this status quo, perhaps, Biden’s donation, as politically doused as it is, signals a new normal. Because while these countries aren’t left to fend for themselves anymore, which is new, they are still quid-pro-quo alliances – alliances that under any normal situation could plainly be recognised as the wealthy exploiting one’s lack of wealth. Should this exploitation that can, undoubtedly, benefit third world countries be accepted?
The answer to that question is not simple. It is undeniably wrong to take advantage of one’s misery in a manner that leaves them indebted to you. But it would also be wrong to deny oneself the chance to recover. These countries are stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is not new. Perhaps then, we would not be wrong to conclude that the world is, slowly but surely, returning to normal.