Source: Global Times
Brazil’s trial of coronavirus vaccines seems to have been overshadowed by growing political uncertainty, a lamentable development that other countries should avoid.
Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa on Monday suspended a clinical trial of the CoronaVac vaccine that Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac is developing, citing a severe adverse event.
While local media reports later revealed that the death of a trial volunteer had been registered as suicide, Anvisa said on Tuesday that it would still maintain the halt for an unknown period of time.
While Anvisa said its decision was not politically motivated, critics pointed out that the country’s trial of coronavirus vaccine has become more of a political issue in Brazil than a public health issue.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly attacked the credibility of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine and even said on social media platform on Tuesday that the suspension was “another victory” for him.
Besides, the delicate timing of the suspension of the clinical trial may also raise some suspicion about the geopolitical implication of the move. Pfizer announced on Monday that its experimental coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 percent effective based on initial trial results, which is certainly a welcome development in the global fight against COVID-19.
Whether Brazil’s domestic politics and geopolitical factors may or may not have played a role in the country’s trial and choice of coronavirus vaccine, observers already warned that at a time of rising geopolitical tensions, the distribution of coronavirus vaccine should avoid the trap of politicization.
With the COVID-19 pandemic roiling the world so far this year, it is generally agreed that vaccines are the most likely weapon for ending the public health crisis. Countries like the US and China have made great efforts in vaccine research and development, and with several candidates already entering clinical trials, many are now concerned about vaccine distribution and procurement, which may open a new battlefield in the global geopolitical game.
It should be noted that the development and choice of vaccine is not a zero-sum game, and as a public health product, safety and efficacy should be the only standard for the decision of health authorities around the world.
If a vaccine is distinguished as “made in China” or “made in the US,” then relevant procurement decisions could be interpreted by some as a sign of siding with a certain political camp, which will set a dangerous trend. Any attempt to incorporate geopolitical thinking into epidemic prevention and control may backfire and will represent an irresponsible attitude toward handling the public health crisis.
China has no intention of trading vaccines for political influence, nor will it use vaccines as a way to compete for business interests for its medical companies.
Countries have the right to choose the vaccines that suit best for their people, and China respects their choice. But we still hope that countries could avoid politicizing vaccine cooperation.