Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
The world is racing towards the exit. Exit from this annoying COVID-19 quagmire which has been lasting for one year and everyone is now totally fed up with.
According to David Easton, a legendary political scientist who laid the foundation for systems analysis of politics, politics is defined as the “authoritative allocation of values or scarce resources” in his book The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science published in 1953.
If politics is a straggle for scarce resources, then this exactly applies with COVID-19 vaccines.
Basically, this struggle is fought between nations but it is potentially competed between organizations and individuals.
How to secure enough amounts of vaccines for each nation, how vaccines are allocated, who are get vaccinated first, whether people are vaccinated safe and secure, and who’s going to get and use the big data of this unprecedented mega-project of vaccination of the entire human beings in such a short period of time? All those things are very precious and scarce goods, for which every nation is competing.
For politicians, particularly those who are in precarious conditions, getting enough vaccines for their nation is matter of life and death, not only for the nation’s physical life, but the political life of the leaders as well. And, politicians are often in precarious conditions continuously and struggling for their political survival.
A breathtaking blitz campaign led by Prime Minister Netanyahu in leading vaccination of Israeli citizens is one of those cases. Netanyahu, on the blink of the end of his political life which has been plagued by coalition collapses and corruption charges, this time again tries to find a way out of his political dead end by conspicuously making a success in changing the political situation, this time, by liberating the nation from the COVID-19 closedown.
Vaccination may not be a magical cure for the COVID-19 diseases since reportedly there are numerous mutated strains to which the existing vaccines may not be effective. It may be, however, a silver bullet in dissipating political predicaments which politicians are faced with and revitalizing them against their declining fate. For example, if Mr. Trump have gotten the vaccine before the elections, he would have been residing in White House till now. That’s the political charm of vaccines and that’s what world politicians are seeking after.
Reportedly, Mr. Netanyahu made a bargain with Pfizer, paying extra amount and giving confidential data of the recipients in return for early arrival of the vaccine. He has been admired and detested at the same time for his tactical skill in political and diplomatic deal-making. This time might be one of the innumerous deals with the devil for him in prolonging his political life which now seems to be perpetual.
Ironically, those nations which were relatively successful in suppressing the upsurge of COVID-19 infections are late in preparation in vaccinating their nation on a large scale. Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are those countries which are not yet having started the nationwide vaccination campaign as of early February and left behind within the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which is comprised of 37 industrialized countries.
The main reason for the delay is not the failure but the success in keeping COVID-19 outbreaks mild and because of that there are not enough test subjects for research and development of vaccine for the COVID-19.