Let no one be left behind!

February 2021

"No one left behind!", no one is left behind! This is the motto of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development by 2030. How much difference between the beautiful proclamations and the dramatic reality of every day. The research, production and dissemination of the Covid-19 vaccine could have been the great opportunity to begin to realize the dream of a common destiny for humanity. A year has passed since the start of the pandemic and our life has changed, the economic laws of the world market have not. The authoritative journal Science writes: “In Europe, Asia and the Americas, 175 million doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered since December, giving priority to healthcare professionals. But vaccinations have yet to begin in sub-Saharan Africa, where doctors and nurses continue to die from the virus. Uneven distribution of vaccines is exacerbating existing health inequalities. In addition to the moral imperative, closing the gap would bring global benefits through a faster economic recovery and reducing the possibility of new variants arising ”.

In May of last year, the president of the African Union and South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa launched an appeal together with 140 politicians, intellectuals and scientists, including the Nobel laureate in economics Stiegliz, for a "vaccine of the people" as a public good global. An appeal that asked governments and companies to commit themselves to ensuring that vaccines were distributed fairly and free of charge to all countries of the world. What we are experiencing is just the opposite. Companies and private agreements with governments determine the fate of entire populations. The rush to production and the commercial wars of recent months have so far excluded billions of men from vaccination, in the inconsistent impotence of the WHO. The fact of developing a vaccine that must be stored at -75 degrees centigrade implies the conscious premise that a large part of the earth's population will be excluded. In the vast majority of countries in the global South, there are no highly technological refrigeration systems and it is not possible to respect such a sophisticated “cold chain”.

Within some countries, minorities, migrants and refugees have so far been excluded from vaccination. Leading international medical journal The Lancet reports that the state of Israel has reached perhaps the highest percentage of citizens in the world vaccinated, while the Palestinian population of the occupied territories has been excluded. Israel is violating the Geneva Convention which establishes the obligation for the occupying states to guarantee the health of the occupied populations.

The only exception globally, Cuba. The New York Times writes that despite restrictions on medical supplies due to the US embargo, Cuba is entering phase three of testing its Soberana 2 vaccine. The vaccine will not need to be stored for long. low temperatures and this will facilitate the spread to poorer countries. It is the only public vaccine against Covid, developed and produced by the state. It will be produced in millions of doses to distribute to the poorest countries.

Once upon a time in the 900s there were two great virological doctors, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. They had a lot in common. Of Jewish origin, immigrants from Eastern Europe to the USA, discoverers of two vaccines against polio (one injectable with inactivated virus and the other oral with attenuated virus). Both despite commercial pressures did not want to patent the vaccine so that it could be spread to everyone, even the poor. The two scientists never received the Nobel Prize.

In Sabin the Nazis killed two granddaughters. To those who asked him if he felt a desire for revenge, the great virologist replied: “My vaccine has saved many children in Europe, isn't this a splendid revenge? It was my gift to all the children of the world even though many insisted that I patent the vaccine ”. Albert Sabin continued to live on the simple salary of a university professor.

The scientist is not a great man only for his scientific and technological discoveries but above all for his ethical and humanitarian value, otherwise even the scientists who work in silence to design the most sophisticated weapons would perhaps be great men? A few lines represent the spiritual testament of Jonas Salk: "hope lies in dreams, in the imagination and in the courage of those who dare to turn dreams into reality"

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