A scramble for Covid-19 vaccines has broken out among some of the world’s wealthiest nations. This is understandable — but too narrow a focus on their own needs is shortsighted as well as ethically wrong. Letting the pandemic rage on in poorer parts of the world will imperil their own efforts to end the emergency. Self-interest aligns with what should be a moral imperative. Increasing the supply of vaccines for everybody needs to be given a much higher priority.
The European Union recently took a controversial step to secure doses for its citizens, restricting the export of vaccines until its own orders have been met. But the rich world in general has done what it can to corner scarce supplies. More than half of the 12.5 billion doses planned for delivery this year are spoken for, mostly by developed nations. Canada has bought enough to vaccinate its population five times over. Poor nations can hope to inoculate only a fraction of their populations this year. If current trends hold, many won’t complete their vaccinations until 2024.