Vaccine nationalism  

Writing for constitutional studies website Verfassungsblog, Armin von Bogdandy and Pedro Villarreal argue that both the UK and the EU are at risk of becoming victims of vaccine nationalism over the Covid-19 vaccine. Both have used bilateral advance purchase agreements with a pharmaceutical company (in this case AstraZeneca) to secure a set amount of doses at a certain price. This is instead of using a more collaborative approach, such as COVAX, the global initiative for equal distribution of vaccines run by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).   

By using COVAX, the authors argue that the EU could have avoided many of the problems it has encountered in its advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca. These problems include a dispute over when the pharmaceutical company is required to provide the doses, with EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen claiming AstraZeneca is legally obliged to provide a certain number of doses at a certain point, and AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot claiming that the contract only requires “best efforts” to supply, which is not legally binding to a certain date. The model agreements that each country signs up to as part of COVAX are publicly available, thus providing more transparency.  

Concluding, the authors argue that the vaccine nationalism that is emerging is damaging for relations between richer nations, whilst also leaving poorer nations unable to afford any vaccination supplies.  

Read the full article: Armin von Bogdandy and Pedro Villarreal, ‘The EU’s and UK’s Self-Defeating Vaccine Nationalism’Verfassungsblog, 30 January 2021

Life after Covid-19 

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the lives of millions of people over the last year. Writing for the Institute for Government, Bronwen Maddox looks at the challenges the Government faces, and what life might look like, after the worst of the pandemic has passed.  

Maddox acknowledges that the virus will not disappear from people’s lives. Vaccine hesitant sections of populations, poorer vaccine coverage in developing countries, and future mutations of the virus itself mean that people will have to “learn to live” with the coronavirus for some time to come. This poses several difficult challenges for Governments.  

Vital amongst these challenges is the impact the pandemic has had on mental health, both in adults and young people. The impact on young people of loss of routine, regular schooling and disruption to exams remains unclear. Some, Maddox says, may never return to the formal education system, while others may suffer from a distorted grading system, the impact of which could stay with them for life.  

The shape of the economic recovery effort is also still to be determined. Maddox says that several key questions over the economic plan have been pushed back. These include whether the UK can live with the high debt levels accumulated over the pandemic, or whether significant tax increases will be needed. Economic lessons from the pandemic could also improve people’s lives. These include:  

  • technological and scientific advances;  
  • increased ability to work flexibly; and  
  • a move away from concentrated areas of economic activity in cities, to a more even distribution of wealth across the country.  

Maddox concludes with the hope that future Governments can “mitigate the worst effects and preserve the best, to discuss with people and businesses the level of risk and constraint they are prepared to live with, and to help them live in a world that has changed”. 

Read the full article: Bronwen Maddox, Coronavirus: no going back to normal, Institute for Government28 January 2021