Vaccine Nationalism

Labour Day has come and gone and we’re into the last stretch of a spectacular summer. Not as many local forest fires as previous years but the west coast is burning up all the way from California to Washington and there is the heat and anger on the streets of America.

Mass tourism was the lament at the end of last year’s summer but in this pandemic time, local tourists took to the hiking trails, the water, dusted off their parked RV’s and discovered their own backyard and Europeans and Americans stayed home. British Columbia at 945K km2 is almost 4 times larger than the UK, 12 times the size of Ireland and 2½ times bigger than Japan. And we only have five million people, 90 percent of them living along the 49th parallel, within 100 km of the USA. I settled into our usual corner at our seaside pub where Camp was already nursing his pint.

‘What’s on your mind this week,’ Camp said and off we were.

‘While the world is waiting for a vaccine against covid-19, some countries like the US have decided to go it alone. China is still on the fence but might join COVAX and Russia has also rolled out its own, untested vaccine,’ I said.

‘I think it’s called ‘vaccine nationalism’, Camp said, ‘and going it alone will not end the pandemic but perpetuate it with the same problems we’ve seen in March when everybody scrambled for personal protective equipment. Once a successful vaccine becomes available, demand will immediately outstrip supply.’

‘The good news is that 172 countries have joined COVAX which aims to co-ordinate access to a wide portfolio of vaccines,’ I said.

‘Yes, the simple reality is that no country is safe unless all countries are safe. And the Trump administration strategy to go it alone could backfire. Worst case scenario is that none of the US vaccines are viable, leaving them out in the cold because they shunned the WHO and COVAX.’

‘Typical cowboy mentality. Instead of standing together with the world community, they think that looking out for number one will save their day.’

‘To define the search for a vaccine as a race is the wrong approach anyway. It’s not about winners and losers. Supply chains are complex and to succeed in wrestling the virus to the ground will necessarily be a global effort.’

‘Countries can do both, join the others and look out for themselves,’ I said. ‘This is a global, not a national problem, probably too complex a concept for a simpleton like Trump.’

‘What do you think of Bob Woodward’s latest book ‘Rage’ and the release of his Trump interviews?’ I asked Camp.

‘Trump clearly has blood on his hands by the way he handled the pandemic as an irritant to his personal success. He is personally responsible for the death of tens of thousands of his fellow citizens, but I doubt that it will make a difference in his supporters’ minds. Maybe just the opposite. They’ll rally around their messiah now.’

‘It almost feels like we’re in a prelude to a civil war. The ‘basket of deplorables’ against those who want a more inclusive and kinder society.’

‘And everybody loses,’ Camp said,’ finishing his first pint, ‘including the rest of the world.

‘You’re off on your road trip soon,’ Camp said.

‘Yes, I’ll miss a couple of these Thursdays but maybe I’ll do a road blog. We’ve never been on the Yellowhead Highway, which kind of cuts the province in half. North and South,’ I said. ‘We’ll be on our own, camp in parks and maybe visit a few friends.’

‘You’ll have to sit on their porches or meet them on a park bench. Bring an umbrella and plenty of warm clothes. Nobody wants to let people into their homes these days,’ Camp pointed out.  ‘We’ll end up sitting around campfires, just like our pre-historic ancestors.’

‘You two want to hear something funny?’ Vicky asked while swapping our empties for two full ones.

‘A couple was having a glass of wine, watching the sunset. ‘I really love you,’ he said.

‘Is that you or the wine talking?’ she asked.

‘It’s me, talking to the wine,’ he said.


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