Is our government doing its duty?
Since February, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to ban exports of vaccine raw materials to countries such as India to boost vaccine production for American citizens. Ever since, the Biden Administration has faced a barrage of criticism from international lawmakers as well as from more liberal American citizens revolving around the President’s lack of leadership skills, the United States’ missing diplomacy, and the loss of common human decency.
And yet, isn’t it the duty of a government to put its own citizens first?
Now, I am not saying that we should ignore the pleas for help from people around the world. What I am saying however, is that there are several factors to be considered before we jump to a conclusion and bash our lawmakers on their heads.
First and foremost, my point remains that our government should put Americans first because that is what they are paid to do. Not even 50% of the population of the United States has been vaccinated yet and states such as Michigan are still suffering profusely from the onslaught of Covid-19. And yes, I understand that there are thousands of people in the United States who are against receiving a vaccination, yet that does not mean that there aren’t thousands of people who still haven’t had access to the vaccine yet. The invocation of the Defense Production Act was a good first step in my opinion to get Americans vaccinated. However, we should also consider the fact that the United States has already pledged to contribute $2 billion to a global Covid vaccine program for developing countries. Our government (for once) is not sitting back and doing nothing, it is trying to help in ways that it can right now.
Secondly, the situation in India is of course heartbreaking. At first glance, it seems monstrous that the United States should withhold vaccine raw materials in this time of suffering. After a closer look however, it simply does not make a difference whether we lift restrictions or not. Factories in India, and other countries, simply do not have the capabilities or the scientific know-how to create vaccines with said raw materials. They do not have the experience, nor do they have WHO-approved facilities to begin production. Furthermore, if anything, blame should be placed at the doorsteps of companies such as Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. These companies refuse to share their vaccine ‘recipes’ with other pharmaceutical companies for capital gain. While Moderna touts its pledge to not enforce patents during Covid-19, a simple patent does not provide enough information to create the vaccine and Moderna knows this. Pfizer on the other hand is going over to the governments of third world countries and allegedly bullying them into putting up government assets as collateral in return for vaccine supplies.
What is the point of the United States providing the ingredients if these companies are not willing to help with the recipe?
My third and final point is that while my heart truly goes out to the people of India suffering right now, I firmly believe that the Indian government should be held accountable for this horrendous situation. Prime Minister Modi and his government have allowed this pandemic to turn into a catastrophe in India by not taking any preventative measures to protect their people. India is on the brink of collapse right now because its government prioritized political campaigns over Covid vaccines. Modi himself has been responsible for holding reckless political rallies with thousands of people in attendance in the face of this growing catastrophe. These rallies have been deadly super-spreaders of the virus, not least because the attendees have ignored all protection measures at these rallies. Again, this brings me back to my point, which is that the U.S. government is facing criticism for not helping India, when India’s own government failed to help its people when it has the resources to do so.
For once, I am in support of our government’s actions (a moot point since the restrictions have been lifted) and I believe that those who are so focused on tearing down U.S. leadership need to take a step back and consider that the U.S. government is leading.
It’s leading the American people, the government’s first and foremost duty.