The COVID19 Pandemic will show a great divide between rich and developing countries and enhance the systemic’ inequality, exposing the faulty democracies, giving ground to autocracies, and redistributing geopolitical alliances.
There is nothing new about the differences between rich nations and developing nations concerning health, the quality of life, and basic needs, always a struggle for developing countries. The pandemic response now exposes the divide between those countries that can afford the vaccine, delivers it promptly, and obtains a health-related advance and an economic advantage over the rest.
We already lived in a sick world, where infant mortality indexes, access to affordable healthcare, life expectancy rates, access to potable water, hospital beds per capita, UCI units per capita, etc.… were already indexes that showed the differences between being a citizen of a developed country versus a citizen of a country that lacked enough benefits.
As we advance the vaccine distribution, and our population receives the first then the second shot, we will see the consequences of economic advantage. On the one hand, those economies that can reopen and sustain the activities, versus those that need to keep the lock downs or risk a higher number of deaths.
I predict we will see the world marching at three speeds. The recovery accelerated speed, especially for those countries with production or access to the vaccine—the second lower speed for those countries that will make an effort but delay providing the vaccines. And a third speed, the lowest, for those countries with only the option to obtain the vaccine at the speed they can assume the cost and resolve dramatic logistic deficits.
The obtention of the vaccine exposes many political and budgetary decisions. Countries in an advantageous position have invested in healthcare. Health insurance policies that cover most of the population, UCI units, enough healthcare workers, research and development, infrastructures to reach the people, and technological infrastructure to alert the people, will succeed in seizing the moment.
Countties that pretended to have these investments prepared are exposed to their faults. For example, reducing hospital beds, UCI units, and healthcare workers in Spain reveals their governments’ poor decisions in the last two decades. The lack of research and development in Italy exposes the dependency in other countries for the vaccine’s obtention. The lack of infrastructure in Brazil can make it difficult to distribute the vaccine to its vast population.
We are as sick as the sickest among us, and a global distribution should prioritize the United Nations and the World Health Organization. However, I anticipate that the rich nations’ governments will see this as an opportunity to gain economic advantage and sell their help to developing countries for trade and geopolitical advantage. China and Russia may use their vaccines to gain allies for different interests, ranging from energy to food producers, to name just two examples.
The ability to provide vaccines to partners can strengthen or weaken the western countries’ relations with the developing countries.
We may well be headed to a redistribution of geopolitical alliances based on the fundamental issue of saving the population from more deaths of the virus. But in any case, the most obvious will be the great divide that will separate the countries that can manage on their own from those that cannot, exposing weaknesses and having to wait a turn to recover. The great divide means a terrible and significant difference with consequences that go beyond the immediate problem