US and EU close, cooperation on vaccines is a mirage

US and EU close, cooperation on vaccines is a mirage

US and EU close

Of the 7.8 billion doses, 5.4 billion were purchased by rich countries. Crumbs to poor countries, with Russia and China trying to occupy a space destined to upset global equilibrium

The United States and Europe "have agreed to work together to ensure the smooth functioning of industrial supply chains for the production of vaccines from both sides ". This is the brief note that came out of a meeting yesterday between the Union and Washington. Translated: everything that will be produced in the US, explained the head of the stars and stripes campaign Jeffrey Zients, will remain in the US. America First, from this point of view without too many differences with the recent past and without the two main Western partners being able to agree on a minimum program of collaboration. Not only among them but at least in favor of Covax, the UN platform for low-middle-income countries that is struggling to take off.

(photo: Getty Images) In the meantime, the EU, faced with the substantial failure of a supply chain that until now has never been fully operational as guaranteed by the pharmaceutical giants, approved a mechanism at the end of January to block exports relating to the agreements signed by the Commission with six pharmaceutical companies. Basically, if AstraZeneca and the others do not honor the contracts, everything they produce in the 27 countries will have to remain in the 27 countries, will be seized and redistributed (the process involves an authorization procedure to be forwarded to the authorities of the country where the establishments but the political juice is the one just exposed). As happened a few days ago with 250 thousand doses just filled with Anagni's Catalent, in the first application of the system by the Italian government with the approval of half the continent and the support of President Ursula von der Leyen herself, who on the arrival of supplies (and on the Recovery Plan) not only his future but Brussels is at stake.

It is no coincidence that in the last hours the former German defense minister has returned to the attack: “100 million doses a month since April ", He guaranteed, then" the quantities could double again according to the plans of the producers, also because more vaccines are about to be approved ". Going back to targeting AstraZeneca, which so far would have delivered only 10% of what was agreed in the agreements: "He had to start producing before he had the authorization to the market" and prepare the stocks "to distribute the doses once he had the green light. It worked with Biontech-Pfizer and Moderna, it didn't work with AstraZeneca. We want to know what happened “. Finally, the sentence: every vial of the Anglo-Swedish giant produced in Europe will remain within the borders of the EU: “We expect AstraZeneca to increase its efforts to distribute more and catch up. This will be the reference on the possibility of exporting also from other Member States “. Failure to authorize Italy "is not a one-off, it depends on the company" to recreate "trust by honoring the contract. If it does, the doors to exports will certainly be open. "

(Image: Pixabay) So the United States puts the Americans ahead of everything and is moving fast. For a few months, it was difficult to see even a single syringe arriving from the west side of the Atlantic. The EU does what it can, with a lower industrial strength, but following the same path: it closes itself to exports, with the risk - conversely - of having to get by with only the doses produced in 9 of the 27 countries (giants such as AstraZeneca , which in various parts of the world have factories or companies that work under license for them, may not tap into those supply chains and choose to leave us only what is produced in Europe). Russia and China have long been entering this colossal batch of vials and doses, exploiting exactly the wall against wall and vaccine balkanization. Choosing not to rush home, at least in proportion to the immense populations, to make serum a lock pick capable of splitting the EU and creating deep ties with already familiar if not unprecedented areas of influence.

Sputnik V, for example, is used everywhere: from Serbia to Macedonia, from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Moldova, as also known in Europe in Hungary and Slovakia. As of March 4, it had been registered or approved for emergency use in over 40 countries around the world. Many in South America, as in Brazil, but also in Africa (including Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Angola) in Asia and the Middle East (all "Stans", Burma, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran) in South Korea and in India. It is no coincidence that Ukraine has instead rejected a product coming from an "aggressor state". Overall, over 1.2 billion doses have been ordered. The fact that the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow and the Russian system are able to meet their commitments is another story and certainly in many countries it will not be the only supplier. Between May and June, the EMA will also give its approval and even the most important countries of the Union will end up ordering it.

Chinese vaccine diplomacy, despite the chronic lack of data and all the doubts about safety , is going well. From Chile, which marches faster than Italy in the vaccination campaign (24 doses administered per 100 people compared to 9 in Italy), where the day of the landing of Sinovac's first cargo (I am now on its fifth delivery) was defined as "joy , emotion and hope ”from President Piñera, to 45 other countries. To which the people's republic has promised over half a billion doses, at least until now. The four Chinese producers will churn out 2.6 billion within the year: a large part of the world population will therefore receive an injection containing chemically inactivated Sars-CoV-2 molecules that do not cause Covid-19 but stimulate the production of antibodies by the immune system. Other than the sophisticated mRna-based serums. Apart from propaganda, according to the Associated Press, the administration has started in 25 countries and the deliveries have been made in 11 others. China explains that it considers the vaccine "a global public good", focusing its action on low-middle-income countries and proposing a alternative model to the US and European ones.

The richest countries, explains Duke University, have also bought 5.4 billion of the 7.8 billion potential doses sold by pharmaceutical companies. There are countries, including ours, which alone have booked more doses than will be delivered in the coming months to entire continents. An example? By the end of May 142 countries “covered” by the Covax public-private partnership program will receive 237 million doses. These are largely AstraZeneca produced by the Indian Serum Institute. It is accelerating but the confrontation with the European Union and the United States is obviously miserable. From the US they say that donations and redistributions will be discussed, of course, but only when all Americans are vaccinated, that is, when the doses will advance. In recent days, however, the heads of state and government of the G7 have announced an increase in the financial commitment of over four billion dollars (500 million has been given to us by the EU also through the Investment Bank) for Covax and the another program, Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, for a total of $ 7.5 billion. Almost a hundred countries are involved but vaccinating 1.3 billion people in the global South by the year will be objectively difficult.

In the meantime, the countries that succeed will make various types of agreements that will bind them for a long time to the Russian and Chinese sphere of influence, reshuffling the cards of international geopolitics. The only alternative, and it is no coincidence that Joe Biden focuses on maximum speed, is that the US quickly resolves the internal issue to dive back into the international chessboard with Johnson & Johnson (single doses to be kept in normal refrigerators) in hand. Countries that will not be able to move even in this direction, cut off even by the expansionist ambitions of Moscow and Beijing, will have to wait many months before they can hope for a generalized immunization by Covax, which will probably never happen. br>

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