The scientific fight against the covid-19 pandemic took two very significant steps this Monday. On the one hand, US multinational Pfizer has announced that the first data on its prototype vaccine, developed together with the German biotechnology company BioNTech Group, show that it is 90% effective. On the other hand, US president-elect, Joe Biden, has launched a task force against the coronavirus, a team of experts and scientists of different ideological tendencies, which will be in charge, when he takes office, of advising him on the public policies necessary to stop the effects of the pandemic.
This is a gesture that aims to highlight a substantial difference with Donald Trump, who has confronted his own experts throughout the health crisis, such as Anthony Fauci, whom he intended to fire as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases if he won the election. The unscientific attitude of Trump, who resisted wearing a mask until the end and who campaigned without ensuring safety distances among his supporters, has objectively been an obstacle to the fight against the pandemic in a country, the United States, which is about to reach 10 million cases and 238,000 dead. A common-sense gesture such as wearing a mask has become politicised to the extent that the most radical Trumpism has cast doubt on its effectiveness and attacked containment measures.
We hope that Biden's arrival at the White House will mean the return of the United States to the scientific path against the coronavirus and also a return to international cooperation through the World Health Organization (WHO) and other interstate agencies. It is only through scientific research and international cooperation that humanity can overcome this and the other great planetary crises. And the best example has been given by the collaboration between an American company (Pfizer) and a German company (BioNTech Group) to develop the most advanced vaccine prototype.
The announcement caused a euphoric reaction in the stock markets, which rose between 5% and 8.5%, as the markets started to see the light at the end of the tunnel of economic recession. At the same time, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU had an agreement with the multinational to obtain 300 million doses. Little by little, then, the stars are aligning so that in no less than six months we will begin to think about a possible way out of the crisis.
But just as international cooperation will have been key to the development of the vaccine, it will also be key to its equitable distribution to all corners of the planet. This is a huge challenge, since only if the entire population is immunised will it be possible to say that the virus has been defeated. And here Joe Biden can again play a very important role if he decides to lead this global response to the pandemic from institutions like the WHO, which will need to be strengthened for the future.