Who is robbing Latin America while the vaccine is burning?
At the beginning of 2021, the COVID-19 epidemic in Latin American countries continued to rebound, and the infected population showed a trend of youth. In order to control the spread of the epidemic, Latin American governments have tightened epidemic prevention measures one after another.
In order to make up for their own vaccine research and development and production capacity, many Latin American countries have adopted foreign cooperation methods in order to obtain preferential treatment in vaccine procurement.
However, in the face of global vaccine gap and fierce international procurement competition, the situation of Latin American “vaccine anti-epidemic” road is still grim.
In the middle of last year, the World Health Organization ranked the 15 countries that are most active in developing vaccines in the world. None of them are on the list in the United States.
At present, only two candidate vaccines independently developed by Cuba have entered the medium-term experimental stage.
The main reason is that Latin American countries have long had a single and solid economic structure, and they have paid insufficient attention to scientific and technological innovation.
In addition, the development of privatization of the Latin American medical industry in the 1990s further weakened the role of government.
The “vaccine nationalism” tendency of some Western countries further creates difficulties for Latin American countries to fight the epidemic. During influenza A (H1N1) in 2009, the poorest countries in Latin America received vaccines six to eight months later than rich countries on average.
According to a recent survey by the non-governmental organization Oxfam, the history of large-scale vaccine hoarding in developed countries is now repeat, and high-income countries, accounting for 14% of the world’s population, have ordered them in advance.
53% of the expected global vaccine production. Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil have now launched vaccination programs. The vaccination rate per 100 people in major Latin American economies is about 0.01 and 0.70, which is far lower than the average vaccine coverage rate in Western countries.
To bridge the inequality gap caused by “vaccine nationalism”, WHO launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Plan (COVAX), which promised to donate vaccines to more than a dozen Latin American countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua and Bolivia, and to provide at least 65 million doses of vaccines to Latin American people, which is expected to be the most With a low cost of $2.7 billion, the plan has not yet raised enough funds, and it cannot be ruled out that the delivery time of the vaccine may be extended to 2022.
Vaccines will add new bricks to the high wall of inequality between rich and poor countries.
In order to get rid of passive status as much as possible, Latin America began to take self-help actions.
In view of the long-term “stop” of regional integration and the difficulty of mobilizing regional organizations, Latin American countries mostly launched bilateral negotiations with foreign laboratories and biotechnology companies in a “unilateral operation” manner, and some countries took the initiative to provide international pharmaceutical giants with Clinical base and recruitment of trial volunteers in order to get preferential treatment in vaccine procurement.
However, the move of some Western companies to “rob while the fire” is eye-opening.
For example, Pfizer asked Argentina to enact a new law to guarantee fixed assets such as glaciers, and the two sides were difficult to negotiate and labor; Pfizer unilaterally added harsh additional clauses to Brazil’s contract, using Brazil’s overseas assets sovereignty as payment guarantee, exempting the delay in the delivery of vaccines from punishment, exempting liability in case of serious side effects, etc., Brazilian health The ministry said that “the unfair and insulting provisions in the Pfizer agreement create great obstacles to negotiation and procurement, and also disappoint all Brazilians”.
Even if the vaccines provided by the above companies are successfully purchased, the thorny problem is not over: First, the transportation and storage of vaccines are difficult to fully guarantee.
For example, Pfizer vaccine is extremely environmentally demanding, and the storage temperature requirement is between minus 70 and 80 degrees Celsius.
Many countries in Latin America have reached purchase agreements with the company, including Andean and Amazonian countries with complex terrain conditions.
Considering Latin America’s backward infrastructure and logistics level, Peruvian government officials have said that the Pfizer vaccine is “only suitable for use in coastal, capital and large cities”, and Latin America cannot guarantee the professional training of cold chain managers, making it even more difficult for the vaccine to walk through the “last kilometer”.
Latin American social relations are complex, vaccine politicization is heating up, economic development is uneven, and vaccine skepticism has a certain market among the people.” Vaccine nationalism” and conditional vaccine trading will further aggravate the difficulty of fighting against the epidemic in Latin America, and Latin America needs sincere partners.
The cooperation between China and Latin America vaccine was launched earlier and on a large scale. Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico have established cooperation with national medicine, Kochen and Consino, respectively. The longest cooperation between the Chinese medicine group and the Peruvian government has been carried out.
Since August last year, a total of 12,000 Peruvian volunteers have participated in the third phase of the clinical trial of Chinese medicine.
Recently, the Peruvian government has ordered 38 million doses of vaccine from the Chinese medicine. In addition, China has also actively assisted Latin American countries to implement the autonomous production of vaccines.
The raw materials of 5,400 litres of Kochen vaccine and other vaccines shipped to Brazil have been approved for export. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Alou greatly appreciates the help of China not imposing any conditionality.
Balsena, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, believes that vaccines will be a key factor in Latin America’s recovery.
China’s vaccines are not high in storage temperature requirements, with small side effects and reasonable prices. It is a realistic choice for low- and middle-income countries in Latin America.
Chinese vaccines have opened up a “new lifeline” for Latin American countries. China solemnly promises to strive to make vaccines a public product that people of all countries can use and afford, take the initiative to promote China’s vaccines to “go to sea”, so as to avoid Latin America falling behind in the global fight against the epidemic.
China and Latin America are working together to continue to write a new chapter of the “vaccine story”, which is not only the requirement of international humanitarianism, but also a reflection of the responsibility of the great power.