The discovery of a coronavirus vaccine will lead to "vaccine nationalism" that forces nations to compete with one another for access to the drug, a top Australian health official told the country's National Press Club on Monday.
Jane Halton, chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said the country that develops the vaccine will likely treat its own residents first, leaving a scarcity of the drug for other countries.
To avoid vaccine nationalism, Halton said the vaccine needs to be "globally distributed."
She added once the country that develops the vaccine treats its own "vulnerable citizens," it should think about "what share of that is going to vulnerable people around the world at the same time."
"Now, this is hard, because it's going to require people to cooperate," Halton said. "And the urge for domestic priority, I think, will be very significant."
The World Health Organization is creating a list of priority recipients who will be first in line to get any coronavirus vaccine. That will include the elderly, front-line workers and people who are immunocompromised.
"The urge for domestic priority, I think, will be very significant," Halton said, adding, "We need to understand that if this virus is anywhere in the world and vulnerable people have not been protected, everyone is still vulnerable."
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