Who is responsible for the condition we are in today? I have never expected that I will find myself in this kind of situation, as many of us are expecting us today. The constant enthusiasm on what is happening in the country, how many infections are occurring and how long are the lockdowns and restrictions are going to persist.
The country which boasted about the ownership of Ayurveda and Yoga is looking for western vaccines. The country is suffering now to get a breath of oxygen and has stooped to a situation where it is getting (requesting) aid from others.
I would like to highlight about the critical case of selfish diplomacy shown by few countries.
The Intellectual Property Rights of vaccines has become a throne of concern in the context of bioethics. Never has a vaccine been debated like this for IP. It sometimes occurs to me why not share the knowledge with others for the betterment of mankind?
This reminds me of the childish activities we used to do in our schools. Any competitive student possessing a solution to any mathematical problem will not share the knowledge with fellow students in fear of competition. What if they score better marks than me? I should only be the person with a solution to this problem. I should only get appreciated and rewarded.
I am afraid, that these kind of children are now running the pharmaceutical companies. I can understand the business context here. Raking the moolah when the opportunity arises. Who in the world will not take advantage of demand and supply gaps for their greed? Firstly, should I say not sharing the IP rights as greed or an ethical dilemma or opportunistic behaviour? Or once in a lifetime opportunity where Goddess Lucky knocks on the door only once?
Having said all this, I am pleased to say that many global pharma companies, including Indian ones, are selling the Covid 19 vaccines at decent affordable rates. Initially, we were fearful about astronomical prices, but the life or death situation of the pandemic triggered at least a few of the humanity related neurons in the brains of the leaders.
Now, let’s analyze the response of several countries to the pathetic situation of India.
I had high regard for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership until I came across her statement lamenting for allowing India to become the global supplier of medicines. Her concern was India will not supply vaccines to others before vaccinating themselves.
American President Joe Biden initially disagreed to share vaccine IP rights with India. But after severe backlash or I believe to score a political point, he gave in for India and South Africa’s requests at WTO to waiver IP rights for Covid medicines.
Germans, who are known for their quality and precision, have concerns about the safety and quality of the vaccines that would be developed in India if Indians are given the IP. There is also a debate in industry circles, which I would frankly concur, that the first zeal to produce a safe vaccine started when there was a guarantee of huge profits and fame to the pharma companies. If no monetary reward is on the horizon except the fame and respect, no one else would have taken the vaccine invention as serious as it was done today. It seemed to be a race. This argument, at some point in time, shifted to the merits and demerits of capitalism and socialism, highlighting that the needs of people should come first before the luxury of one’s life.
India’s vaccine diplomacy has fallen into a hot soup now. Should it take care of its home first or deliver on the promises? Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute, who is the major supplier of vaccines to Indians, seemed to have run away to Britain unable to handle the pressure (threats) from our endangered elites.
Being a member of UN and WTO, India has a burden(responsibility) of delivering on the promised doses of vaccines to UN Covax initiative, and at the same time provide the doses for poor countries, at the cost of the lives of their sons and daughters.
Should we take the shot for ourselves or give it to others ?
A very critical situation indeed for every leader in the world, which is the result of the gross negligence of Indians and their government in preparation for the second wave.
Hope every global citizen gets vaccinated as soon as possible.
Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/50713897278/ licensed under CC by 2.0