Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, said in an interview with AFP that if the United States takes the lead in developing an effective vaccine against a new coronavirus, it must be quickly shared with the world.
President Donald Trump ’s government had suggested that although it would share its scientific knowledge, it would give priority to the production of doses for the American people from the beginning.
“Certainly if we had a vaccine that works, I would want to be sure as quickly as possible, it is available there (Africa) and in South America — look at Brazil right now,” Collins said.
“We have a great deal of responsibility. We, as the richest nation in the world, need not to just take care of ourselves. That would be a terrible outcome.”
Collins’ NIH — one of the world’s top research centers with a $42 billion budget — is partnering with private companies in the frantic race to find a vaccine against the deadly virus, which has killed more than 320,000 people around the world.
The Trump administration has set a goal to produce 300 million doses of vaccine by January, enough to vaccinate all people.
However, if the United States succeeds, should some of these doses be exported to vulnerable groups in other countries instead of being provided to other healthy Americans?
Collins says yes, while cautioning that any forecast is based on “a lot of hope.”
“Personally, I would certainly think that should be a matter of greatest attention and not sometime in 2022,” he said.
“Maybe even as soon as the end of this year when we actually have the ability to do so.”