Jack Tame: Who should get the Covid-19 vaccine first?

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 25 Jul 2020, 9:55AM
Photo / AP

Jack Tame: Who should get the Covid-19 vaccine first?

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 25 Jul 2020, 9:55AM

If you needed any reminder about just how well New Zealand is doing in this pandemic relative to other countries, compare the weeks of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Fauci and Bloomfield fill similar roles in their respective country’s response to covid-19. From relative obscurity, both men have become cult figures or celebrities, even, in a matter of months. But one has advised politicians who largely follow scientific advice and respect expertise. The other hasn’t been so luck.

Yesterday, Dr Anthony Fauci walked out and threw the first ceremonial pitch of the season for the Washington Nationals baseball team. The stands in the baseball stadium were totally empty. Fauci and all the playing staff were wearing masks. He fist bumped the catcher. The only way anyone could watch was on TV.

Contrast that with Dr Ashley Bloomfield’s afternoon. At 2.30pm at the Wainuiomata Rugby Club, Bloomfield, aka ‘The Eliminator’ is packing down at open-side flanker in the Parliamentary Rugby Team’s 25th anniversary match. You’d be hard-pressed to find a sport on Earth with less social distancing than rugby. No one will be wearing masks. And anyone who wants can turn up and watch the game on the side lines. They’re expecting a big crowd.

Confirmed cases in America have now passed the four million mark. Deaths passed one thousand a day. But the U.S is ahead of us when it comes to one potentially critical measure. The U.S has already lined up hundreds of millions of doses of the covid-19 vaccine.

Actually, several countries have nosed their way to the front of the distribution list for the vaccine being developed out of Oxford University. The Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, the UK, and the U.S have reportedly secured 800 million vaccines from AstroZenica pharmaceuticals, between them.

Less than half that number - 300 million doses - have been promised for developing countries. That’s great, but of course it’s nothing compared to what will be needed.

If you needed a reminder of just how ugly our World has become, the squabbling and deal-making over the covid-19 vaccine is set to be a stark illustration. Anyone with any sense of morality would agree that countries should be working together to work out a global distribution plan. There are different ways to slice it up… but if the World actually worked together (which I know is a fantasy) you’d think the priority would be to avert as much pain and suffering as possible. A global plan might still have America near the top of the list… but it would also prioritise countries in Latin America and South Asia that don’t have sophisticated healthcare systems and are being hammered by the virus.

Global leadership has been left sorely wanting in this crisis. Every country has decided on its own response to the virus. We face a future where every country is left to fight its own fight for a vaccine. Rich countries will come first. The poor will be squeezed out.

If you have a problem with that and you think World leaders should be making a moral determination when it comes to who gets the vaccine first and who has to wait... here’s a tough thing to consider:

If morality has anything to do with it, New Zealand should probably be at the very back of the line.