Vaccine Nationalism - Governments Pay to Bring Production Home
The COVID pandemic is an unprecedented challenge to inoculate billions around the world. While the drugs are badly needed in the near term, some countries already are developing piecemeal plans reflecting the lack of any coherent global strategy to cover vaccination in a pandemic, which the world needs.
While in the United States, the government’s Operation Warp Speed began funding the expansion and retrofit of pharmaceutical manufacturing sites early in the pandemic, few countries globally have the option to create factories.
More than half a dozen by governments around the world prepare to avert shortages by supporting drug companies’ local production.
In Germany - in the town of Dessau, one of the sites of the Bauhaus art school, an institute was set up in 1921 to mass-produce vaccines that later helped strengthen the German Democratic Republic. Exactly 100 years later, the site is gearing up to be a one-stop shop to produce COVID-19 vaccines for Germany’s pandemic response. The venture has the backing of the regional government, as part of a national effort to secure supplies and add vaccines to Germany’s exports. Currently Germany is a net importer of all vaccines, with a 0 million trade deficit in this area but it is planning to change that.
It’s just one example of a rash of efforts by governments across the globe to access fragmented vaccine production, after manufacturing setbacks deprived European Union members of drugs made on their own soil this year. From Australia to Thailand, states planning home-based vaccine plants are starting to reshape the industry.
Some - including Australia, Brazil, Japan and Thailand - are setting up manufacturing partnerships with Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC. Elsewhere, Italy has pledged state backing for a public-private vaccine production centre, while Austria, Denmark and Israel plan a joint research and development fund and will explore whether to produce their own next-generation vaccines.
India plays a significant role in vaccine production globally, and the United States, Japan and Australia also plan to help finance vaccine production capacity there, according to U.S. administration officials.
The vaccine crysis in Europe has shown that states that depend on deliveries from multinationals can be vulnerable. In January, AstraZeneca cut supplies to the bloc by more than half for the first and second quarters, and told Brussels it was not able to divert Belgian-made drugs that were earmarked for the United Kingdom.
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