Vaccine Racism Is Real

Rich, white greed (and incompetence) will prolong this pandemic for years

Israel is not a vaccination success. It’s a crime. Israel is rapidly vaccinating Israelis, but not Palestinians in occupied territory. What Israel really demonstrates is the vaccine racism that has swept the world. Humans are divided, and the virus conquers.

Rich, white countries have catastrophically failed at basic public health measures and now they’re messing up vaccines. Vaccines are supposed to be a global public good, distributed strategically across the world. Instead they’re being hoarded and held back for profit. Behind all the scientific news, global vaccine distribution is a crime against humanity.

The most criminal act is that these countries are blocking a global, patent-free vaccine at the WTO. During a pandemic, they’re protecting drug company profits, global health be damned. Remember their names. The US, UK, EU, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Brazil, Japan.

These countries and more are also simply hoarding. Even people that signed up for COVAX, like Canada, have completely undermined it by buying 4–5x the doses even needed for their population. These countries cannot even distribute the vaccines, they’re literally just hoarding them in warehouses. In the US many vaccines are set to expire before they get their shit together.

Where we should have had cooperation there is competition. Where we should have saved people, they are making profits, and it’s all coming from the usually lecturing west.

It was not supposed to be this way. This is in fact worse for the entire world. For white greed, we will prolong this pandemic for years.

The WHO’s Vaccine Recommendations

In August, the WHO made clear vaccine recommendations. Global pandemic meant global vaccine. Strategic human cooperation against our shared enemy, the virus. This is Dr. Tedros Adhanom:

While there is a wish amongst leaders to protect their own people first, the response to this pandemic has to be collective.This is not charity, we have learned the hard way that the fastest way to end this pandemic and to reopen economies is to start by protecting the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries.Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country's national interest.No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Please note that this is the exact opposite of what we’re doing. It’s every nation for themselves, the rich stampeding over the poor, leading to a predictable result. A prolonged pandemic.

This is what an actual strategy would have looked like:

In phase 1, doses will be allocated proportionally to all participating countries simultaneously to reduce overall risk.In phase 2, consideration will be given to countries’ in relation to threat and vulnerability.Front line workers in health and social care settings are prioritised as they are essential to treat and protect the population and come in close contact with high-mortality risk groups. Initial data has shown that adults over 65 years old and those with certain comorbidities are at the highest risk of dying from COVID-19.For most countries, a phase 1 allocation that builds up to 20 percent of the population would cover most of the at-risk groups.If we don't protect these highest risk people from the virus everywhere and at the same time, we can't stabilise health systems and rebuild the global economy.This is what the first crucial phase of the vaccine allocation mechanism aims to do.We are all so interconnected.

In short, we should be vaccinating 20% of the global population first, not 100% of the rich countries and then whatever’s left over. Yet the latter is what’s happening.

This is what the global vaccination ‘schedule’ actually looks like:

Because white people insist on being in front of every black person in line, the pandemic will continue for years, in countries that actually had competent public health in Africa. Meanwhile the incompetent people of Europe and America — who massively infected themselves and the world — are just trying to buy themselves out.

And it’s not even working. They’re failing just as much at vaccine distribution as they did at everything else.

Vaccine Corruption

America, for example, having gutted the very idea of government for decades, has no strategy or capacity for last mile distribution of vaccines. The states are underfunded and on their own. Their entire vaccine process is a grift between their corrupt ruling and corporate class. The US government paid for much of the vaccine development, then paid more than everyone else, and Senators happily get the first shots. There is no proper plan to get this out for people, but who cares? The elites are safely looting the public coffers with this.

US Senators reshuffled their portfolios months ago with insider information. The CEO of Pfizer sold 62% of his stock the day of the press release. What do these people care about the last mile? They’ve already cashed out.

This is corruption plain and simple. Governments have never had more bargaining power. America could have nationalized production under the Defence Production Act, reducing prices to cost. The EU could have simply supported India and South Africa’s WTO proposal to make vaccines patent free. All of this would benefit their own people. Instead they’ve just been corrupt. They have served profit, not people, and now the pandemic will go on for years.

Why This Is Bad For Us All

Besides the few elites that get vaccinated and profit, however, this is a terrible strategy for humanity, even people in rich countries. We have, in effect, divided and conquered ourselves. Our strategy, as human beings, should be to unite against the virus. We have instead fractured into vaccine racism, letting the virus continue to spread until every rich or white person gets their shot.

This makes it harder for everyone. Given that we are all interconnected, a country like Israel will have to vaccinate more of its population than if Palestinians were vaccinated as well. The virus will just keep mutating and bouncing around while we step on each others necks. In truth we have to view ourselves as the virus does. As one undifferentiated biological mass.

As Dr. Tedros said,

“Let me be clear: vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it. The only way to recover faster, be it lives or livelihoods, is to recover together.”

Yet here we are. Vaccine nationalism and the virus have won the day. Despite great scientific advances, we have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

We could have made all of these vaccines patent free, but nine corrupt nations chose profit. We could have vaccinated strategically, but rich nations decided to hoard. We could have fought a common enemy together, but we have been torn apart.

And let me be clear, this is not something that had to happen, this is something rich and white people chose. This is a choice we should never forget. They’ve done this with colonialism, with capitalism, and they’ll destroy the whole Earth with climate change. When things are dark you see who your friends are. These are not humanity’s friends. This global vaccine rollout is a crime against humanity.

Indi Samarajiva is a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sign up for my newsletter at www.indi.ca, and you can reach me at indi@indi.ca.

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