bildt86_SIA KAMBOUAFP via Getty Images_covax delivery Sia Kambou/AFP via Getty Images

Humanity’s Historic Test

National leaders who bend to domestic pressure and hoard COVID-19 vaccines will ultimately leave their own countries worse off, given the coronavirus's propensity to acquire new mutations. It is now us versus them – humankind against the virus and its many mutations.

STOCKHOLM – With “vaccine nationalism” intensifying by the day, the global effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic is at risk of faltering. As of mid-March, the coronavirus has infected approximately 120 million people globally, causing around 2.6 million deaths. Though these are huge figures, they represent merely a fraction of the global population, which means that the pandemic still has a very long way to go.

The good news is the historically unprecedented effort to tackle the crisis. Although bringing a new vaccine through the stages of development and approval normally takes up to a decade, pharmaceutical companies have completed the process in under a year. The World Health Organization has already approved four COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, and others are likely to follow soon. Moreover, ambitious new global mechanisms have been created in short order to facilitate the rapid and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.

For example, since April 2020, the WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which includes all aspects of fighting the pandemic, has aided the fight against the virus by facilitating one of the fastest coordinated global public-health efforts in history. And now, the COVAX facility has started deliveries of vaccines to at least 50 low- and medium-income countries around the world (though initial supplies have been limited in the early stages of vaccine production).