Vaccine FOMO spurs smaller nations

Coronavirus Daily
Bloomberg

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Vaccine FOMO spurs smaller nations

Some of the world's wealthiest countries and regions—the U.S., the European Union and the U.K.—are locking up billions of the fastest-moving Covid-19 doses, while China and Russia are developing their own shots. So what are the lower- and middle-income countries doing?

They're developing vaccines in their own labs. There are about 50 inoculations under development in low-income countries, according to Airfinity Ltd., a London-based consultancy firm. Turkey and India lead with 10 projects apiece, but scientists in Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and other nations are advancing with experimental inoculations, Bloomberg's James Paton reported this week.

A Covid-19 vaccine candidate ready for trial on monkeys in Thailand.

Photographer: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP

There's a "fear factor" that vaccine supplies won't stretch beyond the top tier of wealthy countries, according to Seth Berkley, leader of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has been involved in efforts to secure doses for the rest of the world.

But there's more to it than that: Researchers in some developing countries say they want to make sure that immunizations are tailored to their populations, and that their local vaccine enterprise gains the strength to maintain protection against new infections that may arise in the future.

Ultimately, the reality is that no one knows when vaccines will be ready or how effective they'll be. No experimental shots have proved themselves in final-stage tests yet, and Airfinity estimates that it will take until the end of next year to distribute the first billion doses to the world.

In the meantime, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths grow while schools and businesses around the world are stalled and looking for answers. There's a fear of missing out on a vaccine that might end the pandemic.—John Lauerman

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