As wealthier nations seek to flex their diplomatic muscle through vaccine diplomacy, there’s an obvious upside beyond saving lives: it will help restore travel faster.
Vaccine Diplomacy Will Help More Rapidly Resume International Travel
As the United States waits for regulators to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Biden Administration will ship doses to Canada and Mexico. China has sent huge shipments of its Sinovac vaccine to Indonesia, Serbia, and Turkey among many other nations. Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine, is in use in Argentina and Hungary.
Working via the Word Health Organization and African Union, India has donated the AstraZeneca jab to many developing nations in Africa, including:
- DR Congo
- Ivory Coast
These moves are not necessarily out of altruism. China and India are enemies and court nations strategically. Russia has attempted to gain a strategic foothold in Europe via its vaccine. China eyes influence around the globe through its vaccine donations. Western powers are slower to the game, with the European Union falling dangerously behind in vaccinating in its own citizens, but the United States has now vaccinated about 1/3 of its population and is starting to share vaccines with other nations.
Obviously, wealthier nations are going to give priority to their own citizens–that’s just the way the world works. But more nations are recognizing that sharing the vaccine is good for them too. Conceptually, vaccinating vulnerable populations around the world makes new strains of the virus less likely to develop. It also builds alliances and will lead to borders re-opening quickly.
The point is simple: every vaccination is a step closer toward returning to normal and as travelers, we should celebrate the recent surge in vaccine diplomacy not only because it will save lives, but because it will restore travel.
The world is moving in the right direction in terms of both ramping up vaccine production and sharing it with those who need it most. We can be altruistic and practical at the same time: sharing the virus with vulnerable populations in developing nations will help those in great need, more quickly control this virus, and lead to a faster restoration of travel.
Vaccines are not fungible now. I could not even give up my vaccine to my mother. But vaccine diplomacy is an important tool of statecraft and it serves a constellation of interest to slow the virus. It’s time to start doing so more aggressively.