Is the US obligated to share vaccines with other countries? Medical ethicists weigh in
May 1, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
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With the coronavirus pandemic spiraling out of control in India and other developing regions, the United States this week committed to sharing 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries.
(CNN)With the coronavirus pandemic spiraling out of control in India and other developing regions, the United States this week committed to sharing 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries.
"I do believe that the US is obligated to share vaccines with other countries," said Keisha Ray, an assistant professor and bioethicist at UTHealth McGovern Medical School in Houston, "especially those countries we might consider poorer countries or what we call underdeveloped countries. "
He said the US was "ethically obligated" to share vaccines, pointing to the "horrific death toll and hospitalization tsunami that's taking place in many countries. "
She said many countries lack vaccine access because of the "diminished purchasing power for healthcare in general, but also for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines. "
The US is not simply obligated to share vaccines by virtue of its resources, Ray said.
One factor in deciding to release extra vaccines is the issue of supply and demand -- specifically, that the former will soon outstrip the latter in the US, Kinlaw said.
A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation said the country as a whole will "likely reach a tipping point on vaccine enthusiasm in the next 2 to 4 weeks. "
But even without reaching that crucial threshold, the US has enough vaccines to share with other countries, experts said.
"If you don't get these hotspots under control outside the US, they're going to come back, likely with new, dangerous strains that may undermine our vaccines," Caplan said.
There are plenty of questions that will also have to be addressed when the US shares vaccines, Caplan said, like, "Who goes first?