No One Is Safe Until Everyone Is Safe

Minimizing the risk of yet more destabilizing COVID-19 variants is crucial if countries are to turn the corner on a shock that has wrecked lives and livelihoods. The alternative is to adopt a bunker-like approach and sharply curtail the inward and outward flow of citizens, residents, and visitors.

LAGUNA BEACH – Recognizing that “no one is safe until everyone is safe,” the G7 recently announced additional steps to facilitate globally more “affordable and equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics” to combat COVID-19. But translating stated intent into effective action will require both bold political leadership at home and support for developing countries that goes well beyond financial aid. Getting it right won’t be easy, but the effort is essential if rich countries wish to avoid living in a fortress with the mentality to match.

The current inequality in vaccine availability and deployment is stark. According to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, just ten countries account for 75% of all COVID-19 vaccination so far. More than 130 countries have not administered a single dose.

In the face of such inequality, the G7 agreed to increase pandemic-related aid to $7.5 billion and urged others, including G20 countries and multilateral organizations, to enhance their support for developing countries, be it through the COVAX facility or the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative.

These actions are not just the right thing to do, given the considerable risks facing developing countries; they are also in the interest of developed countries. Unless the rest of the world is successful in combating the virus, new variants will multiply and confront advanced economies with a seemingly never-ending series of potential lose-lose scenarios.

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© Project Syndicate

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