Covid-19 is the most difficult battle that mankind has faced recently. With 247,968,227 ( as of 5.14pm CET,04 Nov 2021) confirmed cases, almost every country in the world is facing a difficult time these days.
Most of the countries have realised that the vaccination process is the only solution to overcome the challenge. There are some vaccines produced by many countries including pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, Sputnik V etc.
Luckily, some countries like the US, Israel, UAE, Uk and India have the ability to produce or acquire more vaccines. But most of the poor and lower middle income countries can not afford the vaccines for their population. As a result of that, the possibility of international cooperation between countries was increased and many countries are dealing with their diplomatic tools to get vaccines.
Most of the powerful and wealthy countries like the USA and Japan have donated vaccine surpluses for poor countries through the Covax scheme.
In this post, I’m going to discuss how the Covid-19 vaccine donations strengthen International relations between countries.
Competition for the Global Leadership
For many years, most of the struggles we’ve had were power struggles between countries which means two or more countries fought against themselves to achieve power. Even today, many powerful countries try to be the most powerful state actor. Many powerful countries have tried multiple times during this pandemic to achieve global leadership.
China is very important when it comes to the global pandemic Covid-19 because China is identified as the birthplace for the virus. China successfully overcame the pandemic while recovering its economy as well.
During the post pandemic period, China started its medical diplomacy to support the world to overcome the challenge. China wanted to rebuild its image that was damaged due to the Covid-19, because many countries accused China about the virus.
Also, China supported many poor countries and lower middle income countries like Sri Lanka by providing their Sinopharm vaccine. On the other hand, China also aided vaccines to Cambodia and Pakistan. The Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan said that providing vaccines for Pakistan is a manifestation of their brotherhood.
Miwa Hirono, a professor at Graduate School of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University has said that the humanitarian assistance provided by the Chinese government motivates their efforts to achieve the national interest.
China, which thinks itself as the Giant in Asia and soon to be the economic super power in the world, likes to confirm its status as the global leader in poor countries.
In here, China picked up its favourites in its agenda to provide vaccines to combat the virus. Pakistan is very crucial to China in its One Belt One Road Initiative and its rivalry with India. On the other hand, Sri Lanka is also important to China in its dream of OBOR. Providing vaccines for those countries will help China to improve the regional ties with South Asian countries.
On the other hand, most of the experts are afraid that the assistance of China in vaccination programmes and infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka will increase the influence of China in the country.
When it comes to the USA, President Joe Biden has invited the global leaders to share Covid-19 vaccine with the developing countries and he tried to make the USA as the Arsenal of vaccine.
On the other hand, the USA decided to donate many Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine doses for developing countries.
One of the famous slogans of Joe Biden during the last Presidential campaign was “America is back” . Since in history, America confirmed its status and duties as the global super power. But during the Trump administration, many experts believed that the status of the USA as the global super power was far away from America.
As for the president Joe Biden, he wanted to bring America back to its former status as the global super power.
Donating vaccines for poor countries is also like America recognizing its responsibility as the global leadership.
Acquire Regional Leadership
As mentioned earlier, the world needed immediate vaccination with international cooperation. Assisting the vaccination programme helps some countries to continue its status as a regional power.
There is no doubt about India being the regional power in South Asia due to its historical background, development in economy and scientific progress and the land. India needs to confirm and continue its status as the regional giant, specially in a situation towards Chinese influence in the region.
India aided by giving vaccines for many neighbouring countries including Sri Lanka during recent times. India is famous for the Pharmaceutical industry and is second only to the USA in the number of vaccines produced.
On the other hand, India is a very crucial and strategic partner in the battle against Covid-19 which provides vaccines for many South Asian members.
However, India is one of the countries which is massively damaged by the Virus with 34,308,140 confirmed cases and 459,203 deaths. On the other hand, India supported other countries in a situation where there was a huge demand for vaccines domestically.
Western World and Russia
Since history, there have been ideological differences and rivalries between western countries and the communist countries like Russia and China. Still today we can see these differences among them.
Russia uses its Sputnik V vaccine to help countries in their vaccination and increase ties. Most notably, Hungary planned its vaccination with Sputnik V of Russia and Sinopharm of China, which was the 1st EU country to do so, especially in a situation where the EU did not approve those vaccines.
On the other hand, many western countries raise their concern and credibility about Sputnik V and Sinopharm.
As for the many experts in the field, global health will be the new aspect of the power struggle between countries. Many powerful countries can use vaccines to control developing countries while earning huge amounts of money.
Nowadays many lower middle income countries including Sri Lanka are facing many economic contractions such as dropping foreign reserves due to their vaccination programmes.
However, there is serious concern about the hidden agenda of vaccination around the world aided by powerful countries.