The seeds of a two-class tomorrow are already being sown. Ten high-income countries have secured and administered 75 percent of the current global covid-19 vaccine supply. The United States will have purchased enough doses to inoculate its entire population by the fall. Britain has already injected a third of adults there with at least a first dose. It’s understandable that wealthy countries are racing to have enough of their populations inoculated to reach herd immunity this year. These goals are crucial if we are to see our way through to the other side of the pandemic. But such efforts will fail if they do not include the rest of the world. In most poor and developing countries, the vaccine is unavailable. Not even front-line health-care workers have received a single dose.
The pandemic has hit rich countries hard, even with their sophisticated medical care and robust economies. But for countries with fragile health-care systems and economies, the impact of covid-19 on lives and livelihoods has been crushing. High-income countries should use their wealth and influence to ensure that all countries get access to some vaccines this year and that vaccines are available and affordable for everyone, everywhere in the not-too-distant future.