It All Shows How Badly Nationalism Works

Published at 07:36 on 28 November 2021

New variants are precisely what one would expect in a world were many are left unvaccinated.

The Third World is precisely where most unvaccinated people are, thanks the the rich nations being unable to agree that it would be a net win to weaken (not abolish, merely weaken) intellectual property laws to facilitate more widespread manufacturing of (and lower prices for) vaccines.

That the new variant was detected in Botswana and South Africa is no surprise. Those are two of Africa’s most developed countries. The variant could have easily evolved in a neighboring, less-developed nation, and only been detected when it showed up someplace with the public health infrastructure to readily detect it.

As with the initial spread of the virus, border controls proved inadequate in preventing its spread. The variant was, however, nurtured by nationalism-driven greed: European nations (and the EU are the real bad guys in this one, the Biden Administration has been much more open to sharing the vaccines) valued their business elite’s short-term gains more than any longer-term benefits to humanity of sharing their vaccine technology more freely.

The one border control that would have probably helped is stricter and more-comprehensive testing of travelers. I expect countries to realize this, and institute such restrictions. It is for this reason that I do not expect the planned relaxing of testing requirements at the US/Canada border to last. I will consider myself lucky if the border remains open to non-emergency travel at all.

But it will all be a very poor substitute for the sort of sharing and cooperation that is really needed.

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