The vaccine wars are on – and it’s not just a race to inoculate the world’s population, but a bid for global supremacy.
Vaccine diplomacy is a new phrase appearing in news media and on the lips of diplomats in the United States State Department and foreign ministries overseas.
Only a handful of nations have achieved viable vaccines – among them the U.S., the EU, China, Russia, and now India.
Produced and approved for use in the U.S. are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen.
While in the EU states and in the U.K., the Swedish-British drugmaker AstraZeneca developed a vaccine that is in use, in partnership with the University of Oxford.
In Russia, world health officials were shocked when they became the first country to approve a vaccine, named Sputnik V, months ahead of other countries, including the U.S., which approved its first vaccines in November (after Election Day, how convenient).
Meanwhile, in China, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are now being exported around the world.
Vaccinating the people of the world should be a humanitarian and public health endeavor, but it has now turned ugly and broken out in fights between the key global players in the vaccine wars. States are jockeying for geopolitical influence and vaccine purchasing agreements with other countries as they champion their domestic vaccine makers and besmirch the efficacy of other vaccines from other countries.
On Friday, Russia pointed the finger at the United States for allegedly unrolling a massive disinformation campaign to sully and discredit Russia Sputnik V, questioning its reliability and the nefarious ulterior motives of the regime that created it. Russia claims the U.S. is trying to influence leaders in the European Union and heads of state around the world, with which world powers are trying to build stronger relationships.
Because is anything more sensitive and of the national interest to a country that the health of their people? The very existence of states is to protect us from a state of anarchy (see: Thomas Hobbes) and threats. What is a country made of but for people? It’s people who run a country, in all its functions, departments, bureaucracies, and factories. Without people a country ceases to exist. This is why vaccinating a country’s population is so critical to world leaders.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. Save a man with a vaccine and he will forever remember you, so the thinking goes.
The Global Engagement Center at the State Department, the office responsible for countering disinformation and the likely hand behind Russia’s allegation, if Russia’s claim has any merit, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
However, this claim by Russia follows similar claims by U.S. officials that Moscow was behind a similar campaign targeting made-in-the-U.S.A. vaccines.
It is not uncommon, in a somewhat childish way, for Russia to accuse another country of the same behavior they have been accused of. The Russians live in a fantasyland of lies.
“It is very clear that Russia is up to its old tricks, and in doing so is potentially putting people at risk by spreading disinformation about vaccines that we know to be saving lives every day,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday.
China is also trying its hand at world domination via the soft power of vaccines. The Chinese communists are specifically targeting strategic corners of the world, such as in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia in attempt to curry goodwill and influence.
A U.S. military official said this week that Russia and the communist Chinese even “may be collaborating” south of the U.S.-Mexico border — namely, in Venezuela.
“China is the greatest long-term strategic threat to the security in the 21st century, the Chinese Communist Party’s insidious, and corrosive and corrupt influences at work globally and in this region,” U.S. Southern Command chief Navy Admiral Craig Faller said in a news conference.
“Some examples include their pursuit of multiple port deals, loans for political leverage, vaccine diplomacy that undermines sovereignty, state surveillance I.T., and the exploitation of resources such as illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing,” he said.
Faller added that the communist Chinese have outpaced the United States in vaccine diplomacy and they are working to use vaccines as a means to develop economic networks with other countries and secure critical infrastructure deals.
Recently, Russia secured a deal to sell more than 100 million doses of their Sputnik V vaccine to India, while reaching agreements to sell more than 7 million doses of Sputnik V to Mexico, along with several European Union countries.
EU countries Slovakia and Hungary signed the deal with Russia before the European Union itself approved the vaccine.
“The Chinese and the Russians are advancing their vaccine diplomacy and are winning friends and influencing people and expanding their sphere of influence,” said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Meanwhile, President Biden is facing calls for the United States to distribute more of its vaccines globally, while still dealing with the majority of the domestic population which hasn’t yet been vaccinated.
Biden may be the luckiest politician in the world, given his general ineptitude: Biden now claims responsibility for the millions of vaccines secured by the Trump administration under Operation Warp Speed.
Without the Trump administration’s efforts, it is likely that not only would the United States not be engaged in vaccine diplomacy, but Biden would be importing our vaccines from China or Russia.