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Tyler Cowen

Covid Is Increasing America’s Lead Over China

As the post-pandemic world order takes shape, it’s clear that the U.S. still has huge advantages.

Preparing the CoronaVac vaccine in Beijing.

Preparing the CoronaVac vaccine in Beijing.

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images AsiaPac

With good vaccines apparently on the way, it’s now possible to imagine a new post-pandemic world order. One question is whether China has overtaken the U.S., and on that there is good news: In terms of ideas and relative influence, America may have opened up its lead.

Start with the vaccines themselves. China has done surprisingly well, and some of its vaccines are likely to prove sufficiently effective and safe. But the U.S., working with the German BioNTech company, has produced an entirely new kind of vaccine platform, namely mRNA vaccines. They can be quickly manufactured and hold the promise of combating many future viruses. The China vaccines are mostly based on older methods, with the Chinese doing their utmost to scale up production quickly.