There is no doubt that COVID-19 has affected the non-white communities disproportionately. The ‘vaccine sovereignty’ idea that is embraced by Europe and the United States could keep it the same. This is an idea that states the individual government can use public funding for obtaining priority access to the vaccines that seem efficient.
An effective and safe vaccine can play an important role in mitigating the pandemic that creating havoc. Even if such a vaccine is found, there are fewer chances of ensuring sufficient doses in the next 2 to 3 years. The question now arises, when there is a vaccine for COVID-19, who should first get it.
The Center for Disease Control in the United States has issued guidelines in the year 2018 that states the health-care workers and the personnel of national-security needs to be a priority for the vaccine. This tends to reflect the tendency of the CDC emphasizing the securitization of the health.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has a different approach. In the guidelines that were released last month, it lists those adults who are above the age of 65 as the group for the highest priority. This is only after the health-care workers. The goal of the WHO is to bring down the rate of mortality and prevent the systems of health care from getting overwhelmed.
On the other hand, the experts of bioethics, states that when allocating resources which are limited, you need to focus on maximizing the benefits. They suggest that after the health-care workers are vaccinated, a system of the lottery is the only way to allocate the vaccine.
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control reported that African-Americans and Native-Americans are five times more prone to contacting the COVID-19 as compared to the white people. Latino and Black people have died at twice the rate of whites.
There are multiple factors contributing to this inequality. People of color and the Blacks occupy the front-line jobs more and this cannot be done from home. They also rely on public transportation; their houses are in crowded streets and suffer more from underlying conditions.
CDC has brought out this issue and has spoken about considering ethnicity and race for the vaccine. This has been put aside at the moment as it worked out to be a contentious issue.
With different scales in the disparities in the outcome of COVID-19, an approach that is neutral to the race factor is not appropriate. An active framework that is antiracist is what is required.
The ‘vaccine sovereignty’ idea by the UK and the United States turns the potential vaccines into instruments of power. This strategy is designed to decide whose lives do matter the most.
Giving the BIPOC communities the vaccine first need not be confused with repatriations for colonialism and slavery. The systematic injustices of the white supremacy cannot be sorted out with a vaccine.
All that is required is a strategy that works well for all classes and communities so that the pandemic can come to an end.