The European Union and the United States have imposed restrictions on vaccine exports, highlights an article released by UNCTAD.
In recent months, the evolution of the global economy has been the result of a balance between two opposing forces: the brutal impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the massive response in the form of economic policies, both monetary and fiscal.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global activity decreased 3.5% in 2020, a contraction much worse than during the financial crisis of 2008-2009 (-0.9 percent).
Within that context, there is the role that vaccines against Covid-19 play and will play.
Already the World Health Organization has warned of a new wave in Africa, where vaccine imports have slowed since India stopped exporting.
But it is not just India.
Other vaccine-producing countries such as the United States and the European Union have imposed restrictions on the exports of vaccines and critical raw materials necessary for their production.
According to Ralf Peters and Divya Prabhakar, authors of the article, this is despite having accumulated more than 60% of the world’s vaccines before they were even approved for use.
These developed countries comprise no more than 20% of the world’s population.
Vaccine production is highly concentrated, mainly in a small number of high- and middle-income countries.
Also the necessary raw materials are imported from a few countries.
For example, the top two exporters of key ingredients are the United States and the European Union, which account for half of total exports, followed by the United Kingdom, Japan, and China, with significantly smaller shares.
This implies that restrictions on exports of vaccines or other critical raw materials and equipment by one or two countries can easily send shock waves to the rest of the world, derailing the entire vaccine production and distribution effort, as seen in the actuality.
Export restrictions are not exclusive to vaccines.
More than 80 countries had resorted to banning exports of medical and personal protection items in the early stages of the pandemic.
This also had serious supply chain implications.
Ultimately, these vaccine export restrictions may again affect the countries that imposed them.
As the virus continues to mutate, it can make vaccines ineffective and those already vaccinated less immune.
Nor will the global economy revive until everyone is vaccinated, as closures and social distancing rules at key manufacturing locations continue to restrict global trade.
Furthermore, this is a major moral failure on the part of the global community.