Apr 2, 2020 - World

The Humanity First push for a coronavirus vaccine

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Policy responses to the global coronavirus crisis have been every-country-for-itself and — in the case of the U.S. and China — tinged with geopolitics.

The flipside: The scientific work underway to understand the virus and develop a vaccine has been globalized on an unprecedented scale.

Zoom in: Trump has boasted that in the race toward a vaccine, “America will get it done!”

  • But the NY Times reports that a University of Pittsburgh lab on the cutting edge of vaccine research is collaborating with a research institute in Paris and a drug company in Austria. That group gets funding from an international organization based in Norway and is in talks about vaccine development with a major Indian manufacturer.
  • Chinese researchers have contributed much of the coronavirus research now available to other scientists, the Times notes. And a team at Mass General hospital in Boston is testing possible treatments in conjunction with colleagues in Xi’an, China.

The good news: The global scientific community has perhaps never been so singularly devoted to one issue, and borders have not been a major barrier to that work.

But, but, but: Nationalism and geopolitics could still come into play in the eventual distribution of a vaccine, Axios’ Alison Snyder notes.

  • There is a concern that the first countries to develop or obtain one could prioritize their own populations, and the vaccine would only reach some countries significantly later.
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