As the United States and Europe try to immunize their populations faster than the rate of mutations from the new coronavirus increases, Russia, China and India are betting on the geopolitical projection of the vaccine.
The three powers, which make up the dying Brics group along with Brazil and South Africa, have taken steps to expand their influence of vaccine delivery, especially to developing countries.
The Russians have had a week of good news as their disputed Sputnik V is reeling from the scientific community following the publication of their preliminary Phase 3 data in prestigious UK magazine The Lancet.
This opened the door for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say that if the vaccine is approved for use in Europe, she would help Vladimir Putin do it in Germany – by solving one of Sputnik V’s bottlenecks.
In addition, there has been significant progress in approving emergency use and manufacture in Brazil. This Wednesday (3), Mexico and Nicaragua brought to 18 countries that have already approved the vaccine, including 6 in Latin America.
For Putin, prestige is the centerpiece, all the more so as Western pressure to arrest opponent Alexei Navalni grows exponentially.
In addition, some typical Russian companies can progress at the same time.
In Argentina, which has vaccinated 0.88% of its population since the start of the year with Sputnik V, the Russian ambassador has reportedly offered to sell Su-30 or MiG-29 fighters to the air force local, which flies in a miserable condition.
Conversely, recent buyers of Russian fighter jets like Egypt and Algeria have used oiled canals to receive the drug from Moscow.
On Wednesday, 1 million doses of the Indian vaccine Covishield, the licensed version of the drug from AstraZeneca / Oxford University, landed in South Africa.
Although provided by the World Health Organization Covax consortium, which helps the poorest countries, it is a flag set by the world’s largest vaccine producer on the continent’s most despised by manufacturers.
With that, New Delhi enters the dispute with the biggest external player in Africa, Beijing.
President Xi Jinping has already pledged to help 38 countries struggling with the pandemic, focusing on the continent, to which he has allocated $ 2 billion for vaccines.
South Africa, where a new, more communicable variant of Sars-CoV-2 scares scientists, has ordered 12 million doses from the consortium.
You will need more: this provides less than 10% of its population, always keeping in mind that these are vaccines that require two inoculations.
According to the African Union, countries in the region have already reserved 400 million doses in India, compared to 270 million Western pharmaceuticals. Covax is expected to deliver $ 700 million from several producers.
Also on Wednesday, China launched a coup against Indians, economic rivals with whom they nearly came into force in a 2020 border skirmish.
Beijing announced the delivery of donated batches of Chinese vaccines to Pakistan, its ally and India’s biggest enemy, which was already a client of state-owned Sinopharm.
The attitudes of these colleagues from Brics contrast with the strategy of rich countries, to ensure the greatest possible number of doses.
There is also a geopolitical logic: they must contain the pandemic to reactivate economic flows and maintain social stability, as important as external influence.
According to the Bloomberg agency’s vaccine delivery contract monitor, which has 110 official agreements, no less than 40% of the 8.57 billion doses exchanged are in the hands of the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada, which account for 13% of the world’s population.
Canadians have booked immunization coverage three times as much as needed.
The data are only references. There are vaccines with growing acceptance problems, including the winner of the contracts (3 billion doses), that of AstraZeneca / Oxford University.
In addition, there is no reliable information on the number of vaccines available for China and India, the two most populous countries in the world, with 1.44 billion and 1.38 billion respectively.
India wants to vaccinate 300 million by August. So far it has only inoculated 0.29% of the population.
But the country, which produces 60% of the world’s vaccines, will also be a large Western immunization factory sold to third parties.
China, which has used three of its vaccines as part of the emergency program since last July, is also engaged in external partnerships.
One of the best-known cases is that of Coronavac, carried out in partnership with Butantan and whose availability has forced the negationist until then Jair Bolsonaro to adopt it.
These are side effects of this geopolitical dispute: at the risk of running out of Chinese entries, Bolsonaro has changed his critical stance towards the Chinese dictatorship and should even accept Huawei’s presence as a 5G network provider.
But in the Chinese and Indian cases there are internal political considerations to be made, such as the episode in which New Delhi held a 2 million dose shipment to Brazil of the Oxford vaccine at the start of its campaign.
Another point is a picture: China effectively controlled the pandemic, before the vaccine, while the United States fell into chaos and led the filing of the tragedy.
But Americans vaccinate at a relatively high rate: 10% of people have already received at least one dose and 2% have already received two. China, even for being four times more populated, only vaccinated 1.7%.