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March 2021: Vaccine accessibility and diplomacy intertwined in efforts to quell pandemic

The Brief

March 9, 2021

With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more accessible in areas around the globe, the school's experts are commenting on issues ranging from distribution to diplomacy.

Anne Applebaum, Senior Fellow of International Affairs and Agora Fellow in Residence, discussed difficulties some in the United States are experiencing in being vaccinated in The Atlantic, writing vaccine distribution rests on "shaky software, suburban pharmacies, evasive press releases, and a swirling, never-ending chain of gossip." 
 
Jennifer Kates, Adjunct Lecturer of International Development, and Joshua Michaud, Adjunct Lecturer of International Development, noted in a Kaiser Family Foundation brief the Biden administration's intention to develop a framework to donate vaccine doses to low- and middle-income countries once there is enough for the American population, but they cautioned this goal could face obstacles "if booster vaccines, or modifications to or new vaccines, are required to address variants of the virus going forward." 
 
Lina Benabdallah, Research Associate at the China-Africa Research Initiative, examined China's health diplomacy to African nations during the pandemic in the Washington Post, writing Beijing's actions are allowing it "to stand out from the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom — each of whom focused predominantly on securing vaccine doses for their domestic populations."
 
Daniel Markey, Master of Arts in Global Policy Director, commented on India sending vaccine doses to Brazil and Morocco in Forbes India, noting it allows the nation to show regional and global leadership by demonstrating it has "resources and capabilities of critical importance to the world."
 
Benjamin Gedan, Adjunct Lecturer of Latin American Studies, touched on Russia's vaccine diplomacy in Latin America in the Wall Street Journal, telling the outlet Argentina's decision to acquire the Sputnik V vaccine despite questions about its efficacy was "born of desperation by a government that had failed to secure for the Argentine people access to more reliable and effective vaccines." 
 
Afshin Molavi, Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow, predicted in Arab News that by mid-2021 there will be a global divide in which "wealthier countries in the West and the more advanced and better-governed countries in Asia and Latin America will have inoculated large segments of their populations, while other countries will simply be waiting in line." 

The Brief highlights Johns Hopkins SAIS expertise on current events and is produced monthly by the Office of Marketing and Communications.