With the inception of a catastrophic global pandemic, a highly transmittable and infectious virus known as COVID-19 has halted everything and caused a drastic causality toll not only in China, where the first-ever coronavirus case was reported, but throughout the world. Strict lockdowns, restrictions imposed on travel, and shutting off private and state-owned businesses have posed serious threats to the global economy. This has led to an extreme economic recession around the globe. People are stuck in their homes under the austere lockdowns with nearly no jobs or financial backups.
During these grave circumstances, the world has witnessed extreme power politics and race for the development of COVID-19 vaccination. It is perceived that the state which will come up with the first practical vaccine for COVID-19, would impact and change the international arena of politics and influential tactics. The United States of America, being a hegemon and superpower, wants to retain its core influence on the globe and is trying it’s best to come up with vaccination as soon as possible. ‘Operation Warp Speed’, which has been initiated by the US, aims to deliver over 300 million doses of an effective COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021. It has been speculated that a $483 million fund has been allocated to the US Department of Health and Services for the completion of Operation Warp Speed.
On the other hand, China, North Korea, Canada, and many other states have also joined the marathon to cure the pandemic. However, the recent claim of Russian President Vladimir Putin on 11th August 2020, about his nation’s success in developing the first-ever effective vaccine, has shaken the entire world. According to the Russian state administration, the vaccine which has been developed by the ‘Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology’ in Moscow, has critically passed all medical trials. It is said that the vaccine is all set for selling to pharmaceutical contractors.
According to Reuters, the new vaccine has already been approved by foreign marketers. It has been considered an extreme breakthrough in the global war of manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine. The development has been crucial, alarming and at the same time discouraging for the US as a flag bearer of the sole superpower in the world. Interestingly, the vaccine has been named after the set of artificial satellites launched in space by Russia on October 4th, 1957, which became the basis of space arms-race in history. Yes, it has been named Sputnik V, which itself has been subjected to controversial debate. This name has not only re-emerged the past notion of technological superiority, which Russia accomplished back in 1957, even in the presence of the US as a nuclear weapon power state, but also signifies the importance of Russia in the current global vaccine race. It has also been considered as an intentional move by the Russians to mock the United States’ superiority in global affairs. A statement released by Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), states, “Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping. It’s the same with this vaccine.”
Russia is aiming to shift the power centre of the world from the United States, as the only saviour of the globe, to itself. According to Kirill Dmitriev, Russia has already received a request of 1 billion doses from around 20 countries. On the other hand, the United States with the latest breakthrough has become vulnerable, because this development was not only made by any other state but instead her historical rival i.e. Russia, which has raised tremendous concerns for the Trump administration.
Apart from that, it has posed a serious question mark over the United States’ massive precedence in the field of technology, medical science, and research. There have been speculations that the US will not let go of this move by her rival unattended. Scientists fear that the US will increase the pace of vaccine development without proper testing due to Russian pressure. This can lead to potential harm and millions of lives can be put on stake. Moreover, the development of the COVID-19 vaccine is now being taken as a pawn in a chess game, which can be used in the global war of politics and for winning elections by powerful states. This whole notion is weakening the broader concept of serving humanity as it is influenced by other manipulative motives.
The US is all hyped up for working on this vaccine as soon as possible. First, to revive its lost credibility. Secondly, to encounter the growing economic, political, and social effort of Russia in the globe due to Sputnik-V breakthrough. It is evident how Russia has strengthened the credibility of the vaccine as President Vladimir claimed that his daughter had gone through the vaccine shots. It seems that Russia is creating a whole new positive image in front of the world, to create a window of opportunity for the state’s political manoeuvring and ties with the global pharmaceutical markets, to overthrow the label of hermit state in the world.
With the latest breakthrough in introducing the vaccine, Russians can change their politics in the international world. Apart from increasing the pace of vaccine testing, Trump administration and the global scientific community have shown resentments and concerns over the credibility of the Sputnik-V vaccine. Many scientists have called the COVID-19 vaccine as a ‘Russian Roulette’. While some scientists claim that it is nearly impossible that a vaccine which has gone through only 2 months of clinical testing, has been approved to be sold to global pharmaceutical companies. Hence, the world seems to be divided between the Russian claims of Sputnik-V, the US losing credibility, and the disapproval of the scientific community all around the globe.