In the 12th Century, one elusive treasure was prized over all others: the Holy Grail, a cup that had legendary powers of bestowing eternal youth on anyone who drank from it. Today, the term describes an equally elusive object that is desperately sought after for its healing properties—a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. There are currently over 100 pharmaceutical firms and labs that are in a frenetic race to produce the much needed “silver bullet”. Though
there are only a dozen most likely producers of the vaccine comprising of multinational pharma giants. No other race in history has been so fiercely competitive, so closely tracked and has had such significance in the context of the survival of their race. Tragically, that has been further compromised by what is being called Vaccine Nationalism, where national prestige becomes more important than science and safety, a prime example being Russia’s
Sputnik V vaccine which President Vladimir Putin grandly announced last Tuesday. The vaccine is still to conduct its crucial Phase III trials, leading to widespread scepticism across the world and in the scientific community. That just shows how urgent and political the search for the silver bullet has become.
For all the urgency, the big question is who gets it first? The queue has never been longer—7.8 billion people, the current global population. The truth is that when it comes to something as life saving as an effective vaccine against a disease that has devastated much of the world, money counts.