Is America’s standing in the world getting better, with President Biden at the helm? Initial data seems to suggest that this hasn’t yet happened. However, not all is lost. One of the ways that this can be accelerated is through vaccine diplomacy.
As a recent media report pointed out, the commitment by the US to give away about 500 million vaccines is a significant commitment towards a humanitarian crisis. It ought to be recognized for what it is – a gesture of goodwill and a commitment to addressing the largest humanitarian crisis that we as a human race have faced in our lifetimes.
While the US is still a hegemon of sorts, it is facing stiff competition from China and other global powers, as they jockey to dominate the globe with their money and resources. One of the resources that has emerged as a strong contender in covid times is the humble vaccine.
India is still working through its second wave, which has killed hundreds of thousands – some estimate millions – of citizens.
I have personally witnessed a few deaths in my own family and extended friends’ networks. This has got to be the most devastating tragedy that Indians have faced collectively, perhaps not since the partition of the country in 1947, when an estimated one million people were killed, in the rioting that ensued.
Other parts of the world, including Latin America and Africa are also still reeling from the effects of covid-19 and lack of vaccines and basic health infrastructure is plaguing these societies.
Add to this, the misinformation that is rampant in many of these societies (including in the US) is stopping people from getting vaccinated.
So, while “America is back,” may be a good political slogan, translating that into implementable actions will be harder than one imagines.
The alternative – one in which the US sits on the sidelines and does nothing – is not an option. That was certainly the option taken by Mr. Trump, one which has caused devastation not just within the US, with hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths, but also massive chaos and suffering around the world.
Delivering those millions of vaccines to countries that have dilapidated healthcare systems that are also steeped in nepotism and corruption and ensuring that millions get vaccinated is going to be a long and hard battle for all parties involved.