By Phoebe Weinstein
New York City, New York
As COVID-19 cases reach all-time highs in countries like India, Europe and the United States acquire a robust stockpile of vaccines. Millions of Americans are now fully vaccinated and, after a long wait, many finally seem hopeful about the approaching months. However, a new question arises: what is our duty to the rest of the world? The United States’ vaccine numbers are estimated to far exceed the amount needed for each citizen, but as we secure this surplus, the world around us is still struggling to keep afloat.
Every extra vaccine should be shared with struggling countries, especially those with which America has close international travel and trade ties. If we do not vaccinate globally, the pandemic will never end—our country is not a closed system, and even if you lack the empathy to support others for the sake of supporting others, the threat of a global virus lingers until vaccines are globally distributed.
Vaccine recipes should also be shared, although the production companies involved resolutely oppose this theory. Just like American healthcare, American vaccines are wielded for profit instead of for the good of humanity.
Understanding that such profitable systems are unlikely to change, I advocate for a significant redistribution of the COVID-19 vaccine profits. The money made from production should largely fund various research, pandemic relief and vaccinations internationally. This way, we help the world, and we help ourselves.
Consider India, where COVID-19 cases reach upwards of 22 million. This second wave is paralyzing the country, sending huge portions of the population into lockdown as cases only rise. It seems impossible to many Americans, as the United States seems to celebrate its vaccination success––yet many countries around us are not so hopeful.
We have a duty to the rest of the world to fight this pandemic effectively and empathetically; anything less is counterproductive and cruel. Distributing extra vaccines and funding COVID-19 variant research, relief and vaccinations internationally is crucial not only for the good of others, but also for ourselves as well.