COVID-19 and the cost of vaccine nationalism

Marco Hafner, Erez Yerushalmi, Clement Fays, Elaine Dufresne, Christian Van Stolk

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    COVID-19 has already infected more than 30 million people worldwide, prematurely killed over 1 million, and caused unparalleled costs to the global economy. Currently, there are more than 165 vaccine candidates being developed and some already with human trials. However, not all countries will have access to these vaccines. Experience from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that in responding to such events, national governments tend to follow their own self-interest rather than pursuing a globally coordinated approach. ?Vaccine nationalism? is defined as a situation where countries push to get first access and potentially hoard key inputs for vaccine production. In this study, we examine some of the negative consequences that vaccine nationalism could have on managing the pandemic. We use a multi-country macroeconomic model that interlinks countries through the trade of goods, services and investment. We examine various scenarios and quantify the economic output if only a few countries, or regions, manage to immunise their own populations while leaving the poorer countries behind. Our findings suggest that out of pure self-interest, a sound strategy for wealthier countries would be to invest in access to COVID-19 vaccines for lower-income countries. We estimate the benefit-to-cost ratio of such investments at around 2 to 13 for wealthy countries, depending on the specific scenario analysed.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherRAND Corporation
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 1 Nov 2020


    • Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); Computable General Equilibrium; Econometric Models; Economic Analysis Methodology; Global Health; Health Economics; Pandemic; Vaccine Nationalism Public Health Vaccination


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