Covid-19 vaccination and (in)equalities

Watch the podium discussion here.

Introduced by Anja Hennig
June 10, 2021

This IFES Lunch Lecture aimed to give an insight into the global context of vaccine development, production, and distribution–more generally and with a particular focus on the role of Europe. Moreover, following the major research rationale of the Viadrina Institute for European Studies to raise critical questions concerning our understanding of Europe or the EU, to address power asymmetries, ambivalent developments, or questioning stereotypes we particularly asked for a pattern of inequalities.

Such a question about (re)producing inequalities is also inherent to the context of global health. Mid-May 2021, the Global Perspective Initiative invited to a talk about COVAX, a unique transnational initiative, aiming at providing less rich and powerful states with vaccine doses. A final statement by the UNICEF chief coordinator for vaccine distribution was alarming: “In the West, states would start planning to vaccinate children in late summer. This would reduce the capacities in the global South for first-round immunization of adults.”

For sure, the vaccination of children is a very complicated and controversial issue and, although now on the agenda in Germany, not a question here.  But it is one project among others that politics and pharma concerns bring forward under the condition of an ongoing shortage of vaccines – with consequences on a global scale: As our speaker Stuart Blume told us beforehand – 10 states only have access to 75% of all existing doses. 

However, given the extremely quick development of successful vaccines, we in Europe, in the West, – not to talk about Germany – have been being primarily concerned with the questions of who gets when which type of vaccine. In this vein, this lunch talk aimed to shed more light on global conditions of medical developmentproduction, and distribution and its underlying asymmetries and power structures. 

The Lunch Lecture took place online on May 26, 2021. It was conceived and moderated by Anja Hennig (EUV/IFES) and Marian Burchardt (University of Leipzig) and counted with the contributions of Stuart Blume (Professor emeritus of the University of Amsterdam) and Caroline Meier zu Biesen (University of Leipzig). 

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