Making it affordable for all will be key
Development Economist Dr Atiur Rahman sharing his mind said that once the availability of the coronavirus vaccine becomes a reality, the world economy will recuperate and Bangladesh will also make a dramatic turn-around.
However, a challenge remains of generating new employment and regenerating the labour market. The challenge could be bridled with a long and short term economic preparation, by an energetic team of planners and social managers selected.
The government has to develop a recovery plan of action to generate jobs and employment in both formal and non-formal sectors, says Atiur Rahman, a former governor of Bangladesh Bank.
Atiur says the expectation from the discovery and availability of the coronavirus vaccine has increased exponentially.
Meanwhile, over 100 influential global leaders have joined Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus after he launched an international campaign to make the Covid-19 vaccine a global common good.
The campaign on behalf of Nobel laureates and organizations of Nobel laureates, civil society leaders, and world moral leaders urged all the global leaders, international organizations, and governments to adopt legal measures and declare Covid-19 vaccine as a part of the global domain.
What the founder of the “bank for the poor” meant was that the vaccine should be available at a cheaper price for the developing countries, but not for the West only.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across mother earth, there is an explosion of research activities and clinical trials to find cures and vaccines, says Prof Yunus.
The platform urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to design a World Action Plan on the Covid-19 vaccine and appealed to set up an international committee responsible for monitoring the vaccine research.
The research for a vaccine is a long process. The estimated time for the development of a Covid-19 vaccine is about 18 months or so.
Prof Yunus’s campaign has received pro-active responses from more than 25 Nobel laureates, scores of former presidents, former PMs, creative artists, social justice activists, business leaders, leaders of international organizations, academics, and hosts of political and faith leaders from all the continents.
Obviously, private sector research laboratories engaged in the development of vaccines will be expecting a return on their investments. The research results should be in the public domain, making it available to any pharmaceuticals that pledge to produce vaccines under strict international regulatory supervision.
Prof Yunus believes that if the vaccines are free from patent rights, the price will be affordable in the third world. Most of the developing countries’ hospitals are overwhelmed providing health care to coronavirus patients on their shoe-string budget.
The pandemic exposes the strengths and weaknesses of health care systems in different countries, as well as the obstacles and inequalities of access to health care.
Therefore, the campaign understands the cash-strapped developing countries will not be able to buy the vaccine in bulk. The global leaders demand that the availability of vaccines is a right and there must be free universal access to the vaccine for all.
Governments, foundations, international financial organizations like the WB, and the regional development banks have been urged to develop a strategy on how to make the vaccine available free of cost to inhabitants from all walks of life, be they from urban or rural areas, men or women, or living in rich or poor countries.
The campaign underpins the moral responsibility of the global leaders to develop an unambiguous procedure to determine what would be a fair level of this return in exchange for putting the vaccine in the public domain.
Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, and recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He can be reached at [email protected]