Risky for Europe to bet on US COVID-19 vaccines: Global Times editorial

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Source: Global Times

Photo: VCG

There is a high possibility that the mutated novel coronavirus in the UK will spread to all parts of the world, because although Western countries have responded quickly to ban flights with the UK, this is their self-protection out of fear. Europe’s ban on flights with the UK also makes people wonder whether this shows the latter has been abandoned by Europe due to Brexit at a critical moment.

The long Christmas holiday has already begun in the West. Although some countries have publicized epidemic prevention and corresponding measures, personnel flow and gatherings during this period are destined to increase and there will be more chances for the mutated virus to spread.

Everything has its shortcomings. The Western system and lifestyle have exposed their public health loopholes during the epidemic, but Western society is unwilling to face the loopholes, whether in terms of politics or public opinion. The West also lacks the initiative to fix the loopholes. COVID-19 has afflicted Western society for almost a year, but the West has shown very limited improvement in organizing the COVID-19 fight. Thus, it is still strenuous for Western countries to deal with new risks.

Western countries are well connected and have relatively strong financial resources. But they are weak in cooperation against the COVID-19. This time, in addition to being isolated by other countries, the UK has not even received messages of support from leaders of its allies. When a Western country encounters a terrorist attack, other Western countries would provide support for it. But when the UK is facing such a severe epidemic, it seems that this is completely its own business. The UK has become a lonely island in the raging epidemic.

But if the US announces that the vaccine would be given priority to British people at this time, and if German and French leaders express their willingness to provide the necessary help for the UK, then things would be different. The COVID-19 fight requires joint action of all countries, because the virus knows no borders. But this year, countries are unprecedentedly on their own in the fight against the pandemic.

Western countries have held quite a few meetings this year, but none of the meetings was held specifically for the COVID-19 fight and attended by all leaders of major Western countries. Now that Pfizer has launched its vaccine, the US, which has performed the worst in the global COVID-19 fight, seems to have regained some confidence. The US seems to be deliberately distributing vaccines to reshape the attitude of Western countries and the world, trying to restore the so-called leadership it lost in the fight.

But the situation in the UK shows that the US’ vaccines cannot solve the urgent problem. Although the UK was the first country to start using American vaccines, the amount of vaccines was too few to work. It seems that Washington does not really care that more people would be infected and die due to its slow distribution of vaccines. For the US, the results are more important than the process, regardless of how cruel the process can be.

It would be very dangerous if European countries put all their hopes on US vaccines. German companies participated in development of Pfizer vaccines, but Washington controls the right of distribution and use. If European countries completely depend on US vaccines, then an order of vaccine will be formed and it will fully embody “America First.” Eventually, the US’ way of COVID-19 fight will be globalized and Europe can only follow the trend.

The pandemic is very likely to be longer than what European people had expected. European countries are more willing to face the reality than the Trump administration. But their measures are temporary. They need to have the mental preparation to fight the epidemic in a longer term and strive for the initiative.

European countries must not make the COVID-19 fight ideological. Overcoming the epidemic as soon as possible should be the overriding goal. Greater anti-epidemic cooperation is better. The same is true for EU-China cooperation. The method of fighting the epidemic is a scientific issue and there should not be politics or ideology. Those labels that have nothing to do with the scientific COVID-19 fight should be discarded.

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