Fairness is the best, and safest, bet in the quest for a vaccine

Ideas

Fairness is the best, and safest, bet in the quest for a vaccine

In this pandemic there is no distinction between the moral argument and the self-interested one

Bill and Melinda Gates

In this uncertain time we know two things for sure: we want to end the Covid-19 pandemic as soon as possible, and we want to save as many lives as we can. That is why scientists everywhere are racing to create vaccines. Some countries are already buying up doses, even before the research and development is finished. But research released today shows that we must shift to a more coordinated approach soon, or we are all headed for a longer, deadlier pandemic.

Our foundation asked modellers at Northeastern University’s Mobs Lab to consider two different scenarios. In one, approximately 50 high-income countries monopolise the first 2 billion doses of vaccine. In the other, doses are distributed globally based on each country’s population, not its wealth.

The Mobs Lab team has modelled global influenza transmission for years, so they are well positioned to make Covid-19 predictions. The challenge this time is to account for the countless unknowns about the future course of this disease. There are no historical patterns to extrapolate from, so the team ran what are known as counterfactual scenarios, examining what would have happened if a vaccine had been available starting in mid-March...

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