‘Drop jail threats. Vaccinate the world now!’
Could we cure all disease with a trillion dollars? As many reacted in fury to Britain’s 10 year jail threat for illegal travel, experts warned that the only real answer must be global.
“This is becoming an extended exercise in studied and deliberate cruelty”, fumed one Conservative MP.
He was referring to Britain’s latest travel restrictions.
Tourists from 33 “red list” countries must pay £1,750 for a 10-day hotel isolation. Those who do not will meet a fine up to £10,000. Those who lie about their travel history face up to 10 years in jail.
By closing borders, politicians can focus on battling Covid-19 in their own countries.
One solution could be for higher-income countries to invest money into global initiatives. This way, lower-income nations would be able to tackle the virus.
This approach could be expanded to more than just Covid-19.
In 2013, public health experts argued for a “grand convergence” – where the majority of countries reach a similar level of healthcare – by 2035.
Eradicating a disease is not impossible. Efforts led by the World Health Organisation wiped out smallpox and shrunk polio.
Such a scheme has a powerful moral charge. “No man is an island”, wrote poet John Donne.
There are financial arguments for the scheme. What hurts one part of the global economy hurts others.
Estimates say an unequal vaccine rollout will cost between $1.8tn and $3.8tn over the next few years. One-fifth of the world’s most vulnerable population could be vaccinated for $40bn.
Could we cure all disease with a trillion dollars?
All together now
Yes. Disease can only be eradicated if it is tackled on a global scale. Citizens fortunate to live in developed countries have an obligation to help the less fortunate. Short-term loss would be offset by long-term gain.
No. To generate the funds required to help eradicate disease, the world’s wealthiest countries would need to make a sacrifice many can not afford. Governments should deal with their own problems first.
- Are the British government’s Covid-19 penalties fair – if not, what would be?
- Foreign travel remains restricted. Create a travel brochure to attract tourists to your hometown instead, include both practical information and appealing details.
Some People Say...
“Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of poverty, and all forms of human life.”John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963), 35th president of the United States
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- Epidemiologists generally agree that at the current pace, it will take several years to immunise the world from Covid-19. Around 138 million doses have been administered globally – a tiny percentage of the world population of 7.84 billion. And a majority of jabs have taken place in the small number of developed countries able to pre-order large caches of medicine. Oxfam estimates that “nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will not have a vaccine until at least 2022.”
- What do we not know?
- There remains uncertainty on how long the protection granted by a Covid-19 vaccine will last. According to immunologist Bali Pulendran, vaccine durability in general is “not well understood.” The period of immunity someone gains from any inoculation can vary from person to person. And the protection granted by a vaccine differs from disease to disease. Influenza jabs can begin to lose effectiveness 90 days after administration, while a single yellow fever shot can be effective for a lifetime.
- World Health Organisation
- The WHO has an annual budget of $7.96bn, less than 1% of a trillion.
- A disfiguring viral disease estimated to have killed hundreds of millions of people before being eradicated in 1977.
- A life-threatening viral disease that can cause paralysis. It can be prevented with a vaccine.
- No man is an island
- Donne (1572 — 1631), who lived before the standardisation of English, actually wrote “no man is an Iland.”