Brazil and India are quite literally on the opposite ends of the world. Historically, the two giants have had few commercial and people-to-people interactions. So, when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted out a ‘Dhanyavaad’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after receiving a shipment of 2 million doses of Covishield vaccines earlier this year, it marked the start of a new era of global cooperation, hinged on the ongoing fight against Covid-19. It became emblematic of a counterintuitive rallying of the global order, even as each country deals with unique domestic crises brought on by the pandemic.
This global alignment is rooted in the fact that countries realized early during the pandemic the need to share intelligence and expertise to combat the virus. Even as borders were shut down, there was an increase in the degree of cooperation, especially in the realm of vaccine development and distribution. Now, there are institutions guiding these efforts, like the WHO, Centre for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, who employ experts and policymakers to facilitate equitable vaccine distribution across the world.
Several threats loom over the successful completion of this mission. Institutions must plan for unequal access to supplies, security risks in transporting goods, local unrest and a lack of public compliance in different parts of the world, which could still scupper the rollout of the vaccination program. But where there are threats, there are also opportunities. Global vaccination coordination means countries can now share real-time data on the efficacy of their vaccination programs, and learn from each other’s experiences. There are also international mechanisms in place to ward off the threat of rich countries stockpiling vaccines, such as the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Group (COVAX), which campaigns to get extra vaccine shots donated to poorer countries.
But the biggest reason for this display of global solidarity are the obvious benefits of equitable vaccine distribution. The costs that richer countries might incur in donating vaccines to poorer countries are sure to bring great returns on investment, should it help end the pandemic faster and economies recover quicker. The new alliances formed in due course, and the old ones reaffirmed, will help create a more unified world that’s better equipped to handle such catastrophes in the future. For individual citizens too, it’s a moment to cherish and empathize with our common experiences, that have comprehensively trumped our differences.
This new era of global coordination is also engendering an altruistic concern for the most backward and vulnerable, who face the greatest risk of infection, coupled with incomplete access to vaccination against Covid-19. It’s a dilemma that inspired India’s largest vaccination drive, Network18 ‘Sanjeevani – A Shot of Life’, a special CSR initiative by Federal Bank. Join this movement for India’s health and immunity and help spread access to Covid-19 vaccination and information to all Indians. This is our chance to make the world a better place.