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Vaccine Nationalism: the need for worldwide convergence

Vaccine Nationalism: the need for worldwide convergence | IE GPA

IE School of Global and Public Affairs organized a discussion with John W. H. Denton AO, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

John W. H. Denton AOThe race for vaccine inoculation has shown today’s blatant worldwide inequalities: countries’ capacity to immunize their population has been commensurate to the affordability of some countries against others, and we have witnessed how vaccines have been used as a geopolitical tool, as Susana Malcorra, Dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs, and John W. H. Denton AO, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), highlighted at an event on  “vaccine nationalism” held this week at IE University.

With the situation worsening in India and stockpiling of vaccines happening across the world, this discussion was organized to reflect on these developments and provide insights from world leadership to curb the detrimental effects of “vaccine nationalism”. This is a phenomenon describing the race of dozens of wealthy countries to secure deals with pharmaceutical companies to ensure vaccines for their own populations, thus limiting the stock for less privileged countries who are not in the same negotiating capacity.

“Business leaders and policymakers must step up to ensure equitable vaccine access for all.”

John W. H. Denton AO, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Denton AO, a global business leader and expert on international trade and investment law and policy, pointed out that “vaccine nationalism will prevent us from achieving an inclusive economic recovery”. According to him, “business leaders and policymakers must step up to ensure equitable vaccine access for all.”

Not only the ICC, many global institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Health Organization (WHO), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the World Bank, among others, have warned against “vaccine nationalism” too.

Susana Malcorra

Susana Malcorra, former Chief of Staff to UN Secretary-General Bank Ki-Moon who managed the emergency response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, reminded the audience that the pandemic is global and must be addressed and resolved from a global perspective.

She regretted the lack of cooperation in many levels. The pace at which new variants of COVID-19 appear worldwide calls for coordinated action among countries to ensure that the worldwide vaccination is timely, equitable and inclusive, she stressed. Specially, because we have witnessed how we need to improve or supplement the COVAX initiative to tackle the immediate availability of vaccines for least-developed countries.

“The situation calls for coordinated action among countries to ensure that the worldwide vaccination is timely, equitable and inclusive.”

Susana Malcorra, Dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs

Denton AO shared his insights on what is needed to ensure equal vaccination access. First of all, the COVAX initiative must be funded, he said. Guaranteeing funding also ensures protection against future pandemics, he pointed out. For this reason, it is necessary to create a platform for longer-term funding to fight pandemics. Furthermore, since the vaccine production is a global effort, international trade must remain open and there must be greater transparency over the vaccine. The supply chain must be transparent, he concluded.