Vaccine Nationalism in the Context of COVID-19: An Obstacle to the Containment of the Pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage and fuel much political and economic turmoil, a new scourge is crashing down on the world: Vaccine nationalism. As a testimony of the fragmentation of global public health and the erosion of multilateralism in the midst of health chaos, vaccine nationalism – a race for priority rights to monopolize limited production doses – is threatening to politicize access to vaccines. In addition to ethical concerns, this nationalist approach feeds health and socio-economic inequalities, causing harm to developing countries, while also threatening the health security of all, as border closures are only temporary and easily permeable. This paper puts into perspective the geopolitical and economic stakes of the race for a vaccine against the new coronavirus, highlights the repercussions of vaccine nationalism on power imbalances, and identifies avenues for reflecting on how to guarantee equitable access to the vaccine, an imperative for the containment of the pandemic.