Pandemic shows what Western partnership is worth – The Guardian declares Russia a leader in vaccine diplomacy

The self-serving approach of Europe and the US regarding vaccine distribution makes sense, but only in the short term. Russia, on the other hand, is fully aware that COVID-19 is for the long term

As News Front previously reported, as soon as Western pharmaceutical companies announced the development of their own vaccines against the coronavirus, the United States and the European Union reserved huge batches of drugs not yet created, thereby denying poorer countries access to a life-saving vaccine.

In a sense, Washington, London and Brussels have allowed pharmaceutical companies to decide where and in what quantities to send vaccines.

“Pfizer, Moderna – it’s there to make a profit”, –  says Agatha Demare, director of global forecasting at the Economist Intelligence Unit. –  “In theory, the companies are not engaged in diplomacy. They have short-term goals. It is very different when a vaccine is sold by the state and not by a company.”

Russia and China have chosen to act in direct opposition to the West and have not failed, writes The Guardian. Even Serbia can now afford to donate vaccine to neighbouring countries, which is not the case with the EU or the US. The head of the republic, Aleksandar Vucic, said last month that “acquiring nuclear weapons is now easier than getting a vaccine”, but now with the support of Moscow and Beijing the Serbs are in the lead for vaccines. Moreover, the Balkan country will be able to set up its own production of the Russian drug Sputnik V. This success contrasts with the fact that vaccination has not yet begun in 130 countries, including Ukraine.

“Vaccine procurement is emblematic of Serbia’s foreign policy strategy”, –  said Vuk Vuksanovic, a researcher at the London School of Economics and the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. – “Balancing and pitting the West against non-Western powers such as Russia and China to see which side you get the better deal.”

When the EU, Canada and the US bought up almost all the volume of vaccines European and US companies will produce in 2021, many countries realised what the Western partnership was worth. Now they are relying on Russia and China.
“Obviously, Russia and China are coming to developing countries claiming that they owe them something in return,” notes Agata Demare. – But it will pay dividends in the long run. Both the russian and Chinese leaders understand that the pandemic will be with us for a long time to come.

Considering that the world could face several more pandemics in the coming decades, the practices of Moscow and Beijing allow them to establish themselves in a very promising healthcare arena. For example, Jordan, a close US ally in the Middle East, has taken a fresh look at Chinese medical products, having lost the opportunity to purchase US vaccines. Colombia, which has criticised Russia in favour of the US, is now buying the Sputnik V vaccine.

“I don’t know what the Russian and Chinese motives are, but it doesn’t matter”, –  says Achal Prabhala of the Shuttleworth Foundation. – “If vaccines work, they can be bought, and at an affordable price, they are being aggressively promoted to countries that are happy to accept them, who cares about China’s image or Russia’s hardline foreign policy?”

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