As winter approaches and colder weather makes it even more difficult to adhere to social distancing measures, the odds of COVID-19 spreading still further seem to be inevitable. Still, despite having the highest infection rate in the world, there is growing optimism in the United States, thanks to the prospect of effective vaccines being developed in the not-too-distant future. The fact that financial markets worldwide have also welcomed the latest news from Pfizer and Moderna on their respective developments for fighting the virus also demonstrates continued global confidence in U.S. scientific research.
Yet developing a vaccine only marks another chapter in the long road ahead to recovery from the deaths and destruction caused by the virus. What remains uncertain, and takes on greater urgency, is how and when the vaccine might be made available to the majority of the world’s population. As a country that is collaborating and yet not at the forefront of vaccine development, Japan has a sizable role to play in keeping flaring vaccine nationalism in check and in pushing for a more equitable distribution of the much-needed drug worldwide.