DURBAN – Global health experts fear that the current coronavirus pandemic could lead to a geopolitical fight over vaccines that would exceed the failings over swine flu.
Brad Loncar, founder of Loncar Investments, a US fund manager which runs a China-focused biotech fund says the race to develop a vaccine is like the US and Soviet Union competing in the space race. It’s like a cold war.
According to media reports the United Kingdom, along with its American and Canadian counterparts, said they were 95 percent sure that hackers tied to Russian intelligence tried to probe their drug companies and research groups.
In a New York Times article, a US official said that Russia didn’t seem to be sabotaging efforts to find a vaccine. Instead, the Russians wanted to pilfer the research, to help themselves speed up their vaccine development.
However, Russian official Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, has denied the charges.
“The hacking allegations represented a smear campaign because the Russian vaccine could potentially be the first to the market and it could potentially be the most effective vaccine out there,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a global initiative for the equitable distribution of vaccines and other medicines, but few believe it will hold any weight even if the US had signed on, which it didn’t.
During the swine flu outbreak in early 2009, the international body lobbied governments to pledge 10 percent of their vaccines to needy countries. Those promises were only granted after scientists learned that the pathogen was not as deadly as feared, and that immunity could be achieved with a single vaccination instead of two.
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