As the rollout for COVID-19 vaccines is currently underway across the world, there have been rising discussions regarding vaccine accessibility. On August 18 2020, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke up about the dangers of “vaccine nationalism”.

What is vaccine nationalism?

According to Dr Amir Khan in his article on Aljazeera: “Vaccine nationalism occurs when governments sign agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers to supply their own populations with vaccines ahead of them becoming available for other countries.”

Dr Khan goes on to explain that if wealthier countries hoard millions of doses for their citizens without taking into consideration the needs of less wealthy countries, this leaves a large portion of the world population at risk of infection. This could lead to the development of more resistant virus mutations within these unprotected populations.

The Greens’ take on it

Throughout the past few weeks, the European Greens have demonstrated their concerns regarding vaccine nationalism.

On February 5 2021, the Greens released a letter demonstrating their support for the UK’s recent investments in the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This will allow for more people to get vaccinated at a much quicker pace.

On February 10 2021, a debate was held with the Portuguese Presidency concerning the European vaccination strategy with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Comments from the presidents

One of the main takeaways from the debate includes the common sentiment that many MEPs demonstrated: the EU must ensure that vaccines are delivered as equitably as possible not only within Europe, but all across the world.

Co-presidents of the European Greens Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts were present at the debate to comment on the European Vaccination Strategy.

We need globally equitable access to vaccines because no region of the world should be left behind while rich countries are buying up vaccine doses. The faster vaccination moves forward globally, the faster we will reduce global death rates and get the pandemic under control.

MEP Ska Keller, Co-President of the European Greens

As seen on a press release on the Greens/EFA official website, they are pushing for “a massive increase and government support for vaccine production, a European containment strategy, temporary lifting of patent rights, disclosure of contracts with vaccine manufacturers and systematic EU-wide procedures for testing for mutations of the virus”.

Finally, they bring forth the growing importance for European state leaders to prioritize solidarity with other countries in order to protect as many people as possible.

Athena Banis

Athena is a second year undergraduate student at Concordia University in Montreal pursuing a BA in Honours Political Science. She is passionate about international relations, tackling social issues and defending human rights. When she isn't writing, you can find her catching up on her reading list and sipping a hot cup of tea.

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