As the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe with experts warning the worst is yet to come, the US has been busy. At first, it was busy peddling the unproven theory that the virus was "made in China," and is now engaged in wrestling with Germany to seek virus vaccine supremacy.
German newspaper Welt am Sonntag quoted an anonymous German government source as saying that US President Donald Trump was attempting to lure a German biotech company CureVac, which is working on a coronavirus vaccine, with large sums of money and keep it for exclusive use in the US. Although a US official soon responded by stressing the story was "overplayed," the word "overplay" signaled that there was such a thing.
Regardless of whether the story is exaggerated in the report, the case is fueling fears that there are more countries than anticipated fighting the pandemic in an every-man-for-himself approach when they are supposed to pool and share resources that could accelerate the pace of mitigating or even wiping out the pandemic.
Was the US really attempting to hijack a German company for vaccine monopoly? It seems so logical in the context of "America First," but jaw-dropping for the other parts of the world.
Wake up, America. This is a pandemic, and no country can separate itself from the interests of the entire globe. This is by no means a moment to emphasize "America First." Maintaining hegemony is selfish in nature, but the premise is there is a hegemonic system. In the face of COVID-19, some in the US seem not to care about anything other than the country's own interests, including the current world order.
There was a time when the US had been promoting the security and well-being of the world while safeguarding its own national interests. That's when it earned the global leadership role. Yet today, Washington has been clamoring to get rid of its responsibility while taking steps back in terms of providing global public goods. Cracks are emerging in the hegemonic system dominated by the US. Some countries are reflecting on their previous reliance on the US, and the distance between the two sides of the Atlantic is widening, not to mention the controversies between Washington and Brussels over climate change, defense bills, trade conflicts and the Iran nuclear deal. Imagine how European countries felt when the US unilaterally announced it would suspend flights to all destinations in Europe right after the latter suffered an outbreak?
Partnership doesn't look like this. As former European Council chief Donald Tusk said, with friends like that, who needs enemies? On Sunday, the head of CureVac's biggest investor, dievini Hopp Bio Tech Holding, noted that an exclusive contract with the US was out of the question, adding "we want to develop a vaccine for the whole world and not individual countries." This is Germany's response to the US pursuit of vaccine supremacy.
Foreign Policy published an article entitled "The EU is abandoning Italy in its hour of need." Ironically, while accusing the EU of failing to give medical assistance and supplies to European epicenter Italy, there have been no reports showing the US offered any big help. Meanwhile, China's relief supplies are continuously landing on European soil.
The pandemic is reshaping global geopolitics. Subtle changes are taking place in the world order dominated by the US. When Western countries refuse to adopt strict measures in pandemic prevention and control, they have to some extent surrendered to the virus. If Washington initiated a competition in vaccine research and development at this point in an attempt to exclusively serve the US, it would create a calamity on the crisis. How could the US pursue hegemony if the world falls apart?
Unfortunately, the US doesn't seem to realize that.