Alonso joins call for richest countries to donate Covid-19 vaccines

2021 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso has put his name to an open letter urging the world’s wealthiest nations to provide Covid-19 vaccinations to poorer countries.

The Alpine driver has joined fellow ambassadors of UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – to call on the ‘G7’ group of countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA – to help stop the spread of the pandemic beyond their own borders.

“UNICEF is already on the ground delivering vaccines on behalf of COVAX, the international vaccine equity initiative,” the letter reads. “But right now, COVAX is 190 million doses short of where it needs to be, which leaves vulnerable people dangerously unprotected. Some countries have committed to donating vaccines later this year, but doses are needed now.

“UNICEF analysis shows that G7 countries will soon have enough doses to donate 20 per cent of their vaccines between June and August – over 150 million doses – without significant delay to current plans to vaccinate their adult populations. We’re asking you to make these urgent donations by August and to set out a roadmap to scale up donations as supplies increase. Forecasts suggest as many as one billion doses may be available for donation by year end.”

Other prominent international athletes, performers and actors are among the signatories to the letter.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 15 comments on “Alonso joins call for richest countries to donate Covid-19 vaccines”

    1. Big thanks, Fernando :)

      1. Hard for F1 drivers to engage in politics to my opinion, F1 itself hold’s races in deplorable countries as for human rights and still expanding races in similar countries…, I do agree with Alonso to put pressure on countries, but I do suggest to take some imitative then to push within the F1 organization to donate a decent amount for purchase of vaccines AND also the well paid drivers are “free” to join. I would not settle for an amount of less than 10 million USD.

        Reply moderated
    2. It’s terrible for countries like India where there are just so many cases that the lockdown being enforced by various states has brought life to a standstill. Seeing the races and other sporting activities in Europe and North America makes us jealous, when we’re forced to be indoors all the time – no outings, no activities, no shops, no fun. Just a dreadful situation. However, we are thankful to God that we’re still alive and healthy.

      1. In Europe, we’ve been in lockdown for a very long time. It’s not very sensible to be jealous when you were spared for so long and the huge outbreak was largely self-inflicted (Kumbh), even though you had much more warning than other countries.

        1. @aapje it’s not like 1.4 billion people attended Kumbh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite left-leaning and socially liberal in my beliefs but a lot of innocents were affected due to the devotees and the awful government we have in place here. Having said that, innocents are gonna continue dying or having long term health effects unless we get more vaccines. Only 3 percent of our country has been fully vaccinated, while richer countries are sitting on vaccine stockpiles and some are point blank refusing to share the IPs.

          1. @wsrgo

            The claim of vaccine stockpiles is largely false. The vaccines come in batches, but the vaccinations happen every day, so you need to keep operating stock. In my country, we’ve regularly exhausted the Pfizer stock so if anything, it is too small.

            Both the US and my country have exported Astra-Zeneca after it was decided that they wouldn’t be used anymore due to the extra health risks and the poor supply. It doesn’t make much sense to first deliver vaccines to rich countries and then export them again, rather than to deliver them directly to other countries. The US is already accepting smaller deliveries than what they contracted for, allowing the producers to sell to other countries.

            Your claim that rich countries are hoarding IP is another anti-Western falsehood. Fact is that India is already producing vaccines, so they have access to that IP. Also, several second world countries have developed their own vaccines, so you can just as easily blame them for not sharing.

            Of course, India could also have done their own research. Moderna developed their vaccine in 2 days, before it was even clear that it could affect humans. India could have developed their own vaccine. Your GDP is a trillion dollars higher than Russia and they managed.

            If you wait for others to do the hard work, it is logical they are the first ones to benefit from the fruits of that hard work.

            1. Here is a link that I left out of my post, as it other tends to spend a long time (or forever) in the mod queue.

            2. @aapje
              You are right about batches and most, not all but most, countries are not sitting on stockpiles.

              However, let’s be fair here. The Intellectual Property fight is not really to do with governments directly, but more to do with the companies that own them. Yes India is manufacturing vaccines and has access to the IP, but the entire point of IP is that it can’t be used by anyone, it has to be used under licence. Let’s take Racing Point, for example. They had an agreement to use Mercedes’ brake ducts IP, and then produce it under that licence for the purpose of putting it on their car. They then couldn’t redistribute that to another team without agreement from Merc. In the same way, an Indian vaccine manufacturing company simply can’t pass on the plans for someone else to make. And the vaccine companies are being very protective of their profits from this. In terms of blocking the suspension of normal IP rights, the US has supported this decision under the Biden administration. However, other Western countries, such as Germany in particular, have been very vocal in their opposition to such a move. And finally, India has developed it’s own Covid vaccine. It’s called Covaxin, but has been met with quite a few problems, such as a delay in getting approval for Phase 3 trials, and many people refusing to participate in the trials.

            3. @randommallard

              And the vaccine companies are being very protective of their profits from this.

              This is false, as Astra-Zeneca sells at cost (and probably shared their IP with India at very low cost). Of course, their plan was to enter the vaccine market on the back of this pandemic, but it turns out that they can’t manufacture it very well.

              It turns out that the manufacturer that sells the dearest, is also the one who made the safest vaccine and is able to produce it the fastest. Would they have done so if they wouldn’t be able to profit from their hard work? Our experience with communism suggests not. If you don’t reward people for working hard and taking risks, they tend to not put in the effort or take the risk.

              such as a delay in getting approval for Phase 3 trials, and many people refusing to participate in the trials.

              Exactly, so the issue is not a lack of IP or an inability to create that IP themselves, which the media tells us is the problem, which is clearly a lie. Then a bunch of politicians play into that lie, either because they are ignorant or because they cynically play into the lie.

              The real issue is that the Indian democratic government (chosen by the people) is even more bureaucratic than those in the West, who are more bureaucratic than ever & that they are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary. Remember that the West got to where it was on blood and sweat, not by waiting for others to solve their issues for them.

              That’s the tragedy of many poorer countries. There are a ton of rich Indians in the West, who left a culture that held them back. China is the big exception and they are willing to sacrifice like crazy. Once they decided to reward that behavior and to stop regulating everything to death, they went from a third world country to one that is seen as a potential world power, in a few decades.

              A ton of international organizations and activists are encouraging this victim mentality and semi-colonialist dependency (‘the white man’s burden’). You’d think it was a conspiracy to keep these people poor and dependent, if it wasn’t abundantly clear that it’s genuine and born out of hatred of the West, not so much (or not at all) love of the supposed victims. Lots of people seem most interested in preserving this hatred, even when it means that the supposed benefactors of their activism are discouraged from doing what would truly help them.

    3. This is going to happen eventually anyway, so this is a rather useless gesture. Virtue signaling.

      The harsh truth is that the vaccines that are sent to these countries are not going to be used very efficiently. Wastage is going to be higher in most of these poorer countries due to a variety of reasons. The elderly have less life expectancy, so you save less years of people’s lives by vaccinating in those countries. Also, due to corruption, the rich will probably tend to get them first, rather than those who are most at risk. In Italy, there seemed to have been substantial fraud with people getting themselves wrongly classified and vaccinated as healthcare workers, as well as way too many professions being declared ‘essential’.

      Then there is the fact that conspiracy theories, anti-scientific and anti-western beliefs are much more common in many of these countries, so it is likely that very many will refuse.

      So realistically speaking, no matter how many vaccines are made available, vaccinations in many of those countries will go slowly, poorly, and many won’t be vaccinated at all.

      PS. And to combat the implication that rich countries are hoarding them, I merely have to point to the fact that only 10% of the Japanese have been vaccinated and many other rich countries are still below 50%.

      1. I think you are correct in everything that you say here, except when you said that Alonso’s gesture was useless. It may have been “virtue signalling”, but even if it was, it is a positive endorsement of finding a solution to a difficult problem. When so many celebrities think that such gestures are either not their problem or beneath their dignity, let’s at least give a smirking shrug to the guy for having an reasonable opinion.

        1. @ferrox-glideh

          The only real solution is to produce, produce, produce. However, that is obviously not easy. There have been all kinds of shortages along the way: precursors, vials, animals to test on, etc. Producing biologicals is also notorious for being extremely sensitive to small changes. I’ve heard of a case where they moved a factory to elsewhere in the same country and getting the production process working again took a year. This was despite it being done by the same company, with mostly the same equipment, with mostly the same people, etc. Astra-Zeneca and Janssen both have large problems with producing the product to spec, despite being huge multinationals who are throwing huge resources at this.

          The idea that you can shift the supply a bit and that magically will have a major impact is based on the same kind of delusion that results in superstitions, like knocking on wood. It’s people refusing to accept how complex reality is and convincing themselves that ‘one easy trick’ will make a major difference. The desire to be in control far beyond what is reasonable is a classic human trait, which means that if you want to be rational, rather than delude yourself, you always have to look out for it in yourself and others.

          And I’m getting utterly tired of politicians, celebrities, activists and commenters who think that they are contributing anything useful by making demands, with no understanding of the difficulties involved, or the full consequences. Anyone can make a silly demand: I demand that everyone lived in perfect health until age 100. Yet in no way does that demand contribute anything to improving the health of anyone, unless you understand why people don’t yet live to age 100 in perfect health and what the costs are of trying to reach such a goal. Costs that most people would probably reject, if they understood the trade offs, rather than be presented by the false claim that you can have your cake and eat it too, which is what most demands boil down to. Take UNICEF’s claim that you can have a significant impact on the health in poor countries with little impact on Western countries. You have to want that to be true really hard to not recognize right away how obviously nonsensical it is.

    4. Maybe the other g7 nations can afford it, but not Australia thanks. We are already far behind on our vaccination goals with only a meagre 3% of the population fully vaccinated.

      Europe blocking our vaccines at the start of the vaccine rollout has been bad enough. We shouldn’t have been deprived of vaccines just because we’ve done a good job at testing and isolation to keep our covid numbers low. Or now, because we have a stronger economy.

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