How the Filipino Melting Pot Can End “Vaccine Imperialism”

by Bobby Reyes

“State Lab” | Photo by Gov. Tom Wolf via Flickr/Creative Commons

Part XI of “The Filipino Melting Pot” Series

My neighbor in this publication, H.E. Amb. B. Romualdez reported in his column last April 4, “We are very much aware of the critical COVID-19 situation in our country and are now working double time in pressing for early deliveries of the Moderna vaccines with the supply agreement we signed a month ago. We met with the U.S. government to hopefully allow the export of a portion of that order by mid-May. We are also signing up for another five million doses in addition to the 20 million doses that we recently secured.

Here is an update of the history of the first case and then the Philippines’ first death resulting from the COVID-19 disease. I first posted it on Facebook on April 16, 2020. Note that Wikipedia had been updated and reports that:

As of April 17, 2021, the Philippines has reported 926,052 cases of the disease. Out of these cases, 706,532 recoveries and 15,810 deaths have been recorded.[1][14] It has the 2nd highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia (after Indonesia) and ranks 7th in Asia and 27th in the world. The largest single-day increase in the number of confirmed cases was reported on April 2, 2021, when the Department of Health (DOH) announced 15,310 new cases.[15]

On the other hand, I coined the term “Vaccine Imperialism.” I mentioned it in my column of January 28, 2021, with the title Biden Can Become a ‘Super Genius’ (Part V of a ‘Biden B2B Doctrine for Economic Empowerment. )

On January 31, 2021, I wrote a follow-up episode, Funding Biden B2B Doctrine’s Medical Centers to Fight Pandemics (Part VI).

Please note the suggested Funding Idea No. 5 in Part VI, as I will discuss it further in Part XII of this series. As a reminder, Funding Idea No. 5 is:

5. And the shareholders of and participating countries (and their respective Central Banks) in the “I2D2” may start not only the conversion of outstanding loans of debtor countries into bonds but also what this writer (for want of a better name) dubs the “I2D2 Cryptocurrency.” Or this acronym, “I2D2Crypto$,” that may replace the “Gold Standard.” It may happen if Central Banks of the debtor and creditor countries and multilateral agencies involved in the I2D2 solution guarantee these cryptocurrencies. Perhaps this will merit a commentary (as Part VIII of this series) by distinguished financial experts like James D. Robinson III, his son, James Robinson IV, or their associates — as guest columnists.

The coronavirus-caused pandemic creates a vast divide, if not a chasm, between the rich countries and the world’s developing nations. On April 9, in a report of Bloomberg News, the headline and its sub was The World’s Wealthiest Countries Are Getting Vaccinated 25 Times Faster. Economies with the highest incomes have 40% of the world’s vaccinations, but just 11% of the global population.

And more bad news for the poor patients of the Third World. In a Yahoo Life report at AOL, it said that:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials tell Yahoo Life that as of April 13, about 5,800 breakthrough COVID-19 infections — meaning someone who was fully vaccinated against the virus still contracts COVID-19 — have been reported to the CDC among the more than 66 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated. Of those, 396 (or 7 percent) required hospitalization, and 74 people (0.0001 percent) died.

There is a lack of available vaccines, but the ones proven to be effective are beyond the reach of almost all Third World governments. Here are the price ranges for the COVID-19 vaccines: The average cost for each dose is approximately $3 to $37, depending on the vaccine. Moderna, a two-dose vaccine, recently announced each dose would go from $32 to $37. The Pfizer vaccine, also given in two doses, would cost $19.50 a dose.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are reportedly testing a booster shot that will be the third phase of their vaccination program. But this means that the developing countries will now shell out anywhere from $60- to $111 per one complete dosage plus the cost of refrigeration and freezing operations plus transport, labor, and other charges. Among the estimated, more than 100 developing countries, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of human beings will not have a chance to receive any anti-COVID vaccines.

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it is backing the world’s largest vaccine maker, Serum Institute of India, to churn out 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine for poorer countries and price them at less than $3.

On February 24, 2021, this column featured Bill Gates. The lead paragraph states: “Unwittingly Bill Gates and Anderson Cooper’ talked about’ on CNN last Saturday night some of what we discussed in the Philippine Daily Mirror. Mr. Gates frequently talked of the need for the world to invest in Research and Development (R&D).”

Since both the coronavirus and the flu viruses lead to pneumonia, a separate vaccine can help if the pharmaceutical industries of the rich countries are unable to provide affordable anti-COVID vaccines in a timely fashion. But the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13, an entire pediatric course of the vaccine, typically involves four shots. According to pricing archives kept by the CDC in 2010, a single shot cost about $109. It currently costs about $170, according to those archives. Next year, Pfizer says, a shot will cost almost $180, although most anti-pneumonia vaccines are supposedly suitable for ten years.

As to the cost of the different brands of the flu vaccine, here is a link that shows the discrepancy in the prices of the vaccine, as priced by the different vaccine manufacturers.

Truth to tell, the “Filipino Melting Pot” (FMP) can spearhead the development of the “Poor People’s Vaccines” (against viruses and bacteria) and therapeutic medicines against the present and coming pandemics. How? In this column on January 28, 2021, President Biden duplicates what then-President William McKinley and Civil Governor-General (for the Philippines) William Howard Taft did in the City of Manila in the early 1900s.

Suppose the United States refuses to emulate the works of the American government in the Philippine Islands in the 1900s. In that case, the country can lead a consortium of Third-World countries and negotiate with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other foundations or multilateral agencies to manufacture affordable vaccines against the coronaviruses and other pathogens on a long-term deal. It may be the only other viable option to save billions of lives, especially among the ranks of the poor or impoverished people.

“And how can workers in the Philippines afford the cost of an anti-COVID vaccine (the Moderna, a two-dose vaccine, recently priced each dose for about $32 to $37, and the Pfizer vaccine given in two doses would cost $19.50 a dose)?”

The Philippines and the other Third-World countries need to expand their research and testing on the vaccines they can develop collectively against viruses and bacteria. Because if they do not do so, they will be at the mercy of the pharmaceutical companies in the developed world, especially in the USA’s number-one economic power.

And leading American healthcare experts say that the world will need most probably the anti-COVID and the anti-flu vaccines at the onset of the cold weather (Autumn and Winter seasons and extending perhaps to the early Spring) every year, starting 2022.

And how can workers in the Philippines afford the cost of an anti-COVID vaccine (the Moderna, a two-dose vaccine, recently priced each dose for about $32 to $37, and the Pfizer vaccine given in two doses would cost $19.50 a dose)? The minimum wage for Filipino workers in the nation’s capital is approximately the equivalent of $10.55 per day; in the rural areas is $7.25 per day. And the national government is on deficit spending. What keeps the country afloat economically is foreign loans plus remittances of the Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and Overseas Filipinos.

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