Vaccine Nationalism

Robert Brooks Contributor
Vaccine Nationalism
Read Time: approx. 2:49

This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on December 9, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up.


Top Story from The Hill’s news team: “President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday affirming that Americans should receive coronavirus vaccines before any are distributed to other nations.” The President signed the order “during a White House summit on Operation Warp Speed, the public-private program aimed at accelerating the delivery of a vaccine for COVID-19.” Here’s what both sides are saying about the executive order:

On the Right: Conservatives and right-leaning commentators support the President’s pledge to put “America first.” They believe the United States funded the bulk of the vaccine development, therefore the country’s initiatives should be rewarded by being first in line. The Right is also largely distrustful of global institutions like the World Health Organization, and many conservatives feel that foreign distribution needs to be vetted so resources are allocated fairly. Fox News reporter Brooke Singman first reported on the executive order Monday. In her piece, Singman quoted senior administration officials who said the President’s “priority has been an America first approach.” More specifically, “the priority is to make sure we distribute these vaccines to Americans before we start shipping them around the world.” The official said the executive order is “clear and is directing that we prioritize access to the American people before working with partners and allies to provide access to the vaccine.” Singman said there will also be an emphasis by the Trump administration to figure out “who will be working with the international aspect of this.” This is an extension of other efforts by the Trump administration to prioritize Americans. For example, in August Trump signed an EO “ensuring that Americans are not displaced by foreign workers using federal dollars” in light of the job destruction caused by the pandemic.

On the Left: Democrats and left-leaning commentators want to prioritize American immunization but they also believe that “vaccine nationalism” is a dangerous game. Progressives argue that in order to truly quell the virus more than just American citizens will need to be vaccinated. On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Trump administration [passed on] the chance” to buy more of Pfizer’s vaccine “beyond the 100 million doses” the government purchases this summer. This “now raises questions about whether the US allowed other countries to take its place in line.” In an opinion piece for the Chicago Tribune, Ivo Daalder acknowledges that “The Trump administration deserves credit [for] Operation Warp Speed” but also notes that “with a pandemic, Americans won’t truly be safe until everyone is safe.” He says, “Biden needs to make clear he opposes the vaccine nationalism practiced by his predecessor. He has already committed to return to the World Health Organization, from which Trump withdrew, on his first day in office. He should also announce that the United States will join the COVAX initiative. Nothing will say more clearly that America is rejoining the world than committing to work with others to eradicate this disease around the globe.”

Flag This: According to an online survey from the International Security and Development Center, a non-profit academic institute based in Germany, the US was the only country that said it should have the COVID-19 vaccine first. Over 11,600 people from 137 countries took part in the survey which analyzed data from the period between March 23 and September 15, 2020. By the way, an 81-year-old man named William Shakespeare became the second person in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine yesterday.