Sample Research Paper: How International Relations Affect the Global Strategy Against the Pandemic

Research PaperPolitics
Jan 27, 2022

research paper is a thesis-driven written project. This means that its purpose is to present a  thesis statement and then explain, support, and defend this claim using sound logic and credible evidence. In this sample research paper, the writer discusses how positive international relations can benefit campaigns to address global health crises such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergence of a novel coronavirus capable of causing illness among humans in late 2019 can be considered a watershed moment in modern history. Known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2, this pathogen primarily affects the respiratory system and causes the condition called COVID-19 . In just the span of a few months, what began as a local outbreak in the city of Wuhan , China became a global health crisis. The dire situation during those initial months prompted governments to take drastic measures to curb the rate of infection. Wearing masks, closing borders, and implementing lockdowns became part of daily life. But despite these, the scale of the pandemic has been massive. As of January 2022, the virus has caused over 354 million cases and 5.6 million deaths globally (Ritchie et al. 2022). Apart from the millions of cases and deaths, the pandemic has had a dire effect on the global economy , especially among small and medium enterprises that have been forced to close down after failing to cope with the financial difficulties the crisis engendered. Fortunately, scientific developments helped in addressing the pandemic, highlighting the role that scientists play in finding solutions. However, it is important to note that addressing the pandemic goes beyond utilizing science. Just as important is the global political situation that influences the pandemic response. In particular, international relations that promote information exchange and egalitarian access to vaccines are highly beneficial to mitigating the impacts of this global health crisis.

The scientific advances made in the past two years since the pandemic began have certainly played a role in curbing infection rates and preventing countless deaths. Following the World Health Organization’s declaration of the pandemic in March 2020, the number of people infected reached staggering heights, causing thousands of deaths across the world, overwhelming healthcare systems, halting many essential social institutions, and paralyzing the supply chains of almost every industry. But as with any problem, top researchers got down to working on finding ways around and through such challenges. Breakthroughs were soon achieved, beginning with the rapid sequencing of the virus’ genome in January 2020 (World Health Organization [WHO] 2020). This was followed by the development of COVID-19 vaccines later that same year, a feat that completely changed the way society deals with the said infectious disease. What followed is perhaps the single largest campaign to mobilize vaccines in human history. Right now, literature reports that the WHO-approved vaccines like Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have efficacy rates of 90% or higher, thus making them highly effective at preventing symptomatic, severe, and fatal cases (Olliaro 2021; Luchsinger & Hillyer 2021; Brussow 2020). But these developments can only do so much and go so far, as their potential to bring this pandemic to a close greatly relies on how governments utilize them. Hence, international relations play a crucial role.

Good international relations are at the cornerstone of utilizing science for the benefit of addressing the pandemic, and this is demonstrated by the contribution of open and efficient information-sharing. The importance of sharing complete and accurate information in a timely manner cannot be more emphasized, considering how it has played a role in developing many of the tools that governments use to combat the virus. For example, the sequencing of the virus’s genome was accomplished independently by scientists from various countries. But rather than keep the information, these scientists immediately published the findings so that other researchers could use them. An example is France’s publication of the complete genome sequence in late January (Institut Pasteur 2020). Many others did the same earlier that month, including Chinese scientist Zhang Yongzhen who was among the first to have sequenced the virus. He uploaded the data as early as the first week of January (Zhong, Mozur, & Krolik 2021; Campbell 2020). Data on the genome sequence, in turn, were used by scientists around the world to learn more about what the virus is and how it causes illness. Furthermore, the genome sequence was vital to the development of test kits and ultimately the vaccine itself (National Human Genome Research Institute 2021; WHO 2021).

Another good example of how information-sharing helps the pandemic response is the sharing of information regarding variants. Though there is considerable debate on whether viruses constitute life or not, scientists know that they are capable of evolving through mutation. This has led to scientists sharing information on mutations in real-time, thus allowing the rest of the scientific community to monitor the virus and make more accurate predictions on how changes to its structure will impact society (National Human Genome Research Institute 2021; WHO 2021). The quick sharing of information on the virus may have been spearheaded by scientists, but it also attests to how international relations contribute to encouraging exchange between scientific communities. By fostering an environment and supporting infrastructure that make it easier for scientists to share information, international governments are able to leverage data for a more impactful approach to managing health crises like the current pandemic.

Apart from the exchange of information, good international relations also benefit the global health crisis by making vaccines more accessible to developing nations and vulnerable populations. Within just a year since the start of the pandemic, scientists were able to develop vaccines by utilizing older as well as more recent technologies like messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA. While the development of these vaccines was a monumental task in itself, it was only the beginning since there was still the problem of inoculating billions of people.  Vaccine manufacturers increased the production of vaccines in response to heightened demand. But this did not necessarily guarantee that there would be equal access to them. In general, high income developed countries have more direct access to vaccines. These countries have the financial capability and the supply chain for rolling out vaccines to their citizens. By contrast, developing countries lack the funds, infrastructure, and supplies for purchasing, story, and distributing the vaccines (GAVI 2020). This situation is problematic for a number of reasons. For one, unequal access means that vaccines would be beyond the reach of the people who need them the most. These include the poorest and most vulnerable populations. For another, the success of vaccines depends greatly on inoculating a big part of the population. Only by inoculating enough people can the status known as "herd immunity" be achieved. The effects of unequal access to vaccines can perhaps be best exemplified by the emergence of the Delta variant during a surge in cases in India as well as the Omicron variant in South Africa. Scientists posit that these variants emerged in developing countries because their lack of access to vaccines meant that the virus had more opportunity to spread among the population and hence had more chances of mutating (Smith 2021). Vaccinating more people means stopping transmission and possible mutations.

International relations have the power to make vaccines more equally distributed. What happened in India and South Africa is the kind of incident that necessitates coordination between countries. Fortunately, there is a system in place to address this. The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access or COVAX initiative was launched by the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, and their partners in 2020. COVAX works by pooling together resources from countries to maximize the production of vaccines, thus ensuring that there will be enough supplies not only for countries that can readily pay for them but also for countries that cannot (GAVI 2020). As of January 2022, GAVI has delivered over 900 million doses to developing countries (Taylor 2022). This is on top of individual donations that countries give to each other. For example, the United States has pledged to donate 1.1 billion doses of vaccines to developing nations; 41% of the 367 million doses the US has delivered by far was directly donated while 59% was sent through COVAX (Kaiser Family Foundation 2022). While the sharing of vaccines is already underway, more needs to be done. Statistical data show that developing countries are still lagging behind richer countries when it comes to the percentage of the population that has been inoculated. Nations therefore must improve coordination in order to hurdle barriers to the distribution of vaccines in poorer nations. Wealthier countries are doing themselves a favor in ensuring that less developed and more vulnerable neighbors are getting the help that they need.

The technological advances made in the past two years have been crucial to curbing the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The development of vaccines, in particular, has made it possible to save countless lives around the globe. But while the science is effective, it still relies on how governments plan, coordinate, and execute projects. Effective collaboration made possible by positive international relations has proven to be effective in enhancing the pandemic response. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. At this point, no country should say no to working with others. This is the only way for this crisis to be truly resolved.

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Bibliography

Brussow, H 2021, “mRNA vaccines against COVID-19: a showcase for the importance of microbial biotechnology,” Microbial Biotechnology , vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 135-148, https://doi.org/10.1111/1751-7915.13974

Campbell, C 2021, “Exclusive: The Chinese scientist who sequenced the first COVID-19 genome speaks out about the controversies surrounding his work,” Time , viewed 25 January 2022, https://time.com/5882918/zhang-yongzhen-interview-china-coronavirus-genome/

GAVi 2020, “COVAX explained,” viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/covax-explained

Insitut Pasteur 2020, “Whole genome of novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, sequenced,” ScienceDaily, viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200131114748.htm

Kaiser Family Foundation 2022, “U.S. International COVID-19 Vaccine Donations Tracker – Updated as of January 26,” viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/u-s-international-covid-19-vaccine-donations-tracker/

Luchsinger, LL & Hillyer, CD 2021, “Vaccine efficacy probable against COVID-19 variants,” Science, vol. 371, no. 3564, p. 1116, DOI: 10.1126/science.abg9461

National Human Genome Research Institute 2021, “Fact sheet: COVID-19 mRNA vaccine production,” viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/COVID-19-mRNA-Vaccine-Production

Olliaro, P 2021, “What does 95% COVID-19 vaccine efficacy really mean?” The Lancet, vol. 21, no. 6, p. 769, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00075-X

Ritchie, H, Mathieu, E, Rodes-Guirao, L, Appel, C, Giattino, C, Ortiz-Ospina, E, Hasell, J, MacDonald, B, Beltekian, D, Dattani, S, & Roser, M 2022,   “Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) – The data,” viewed 25 January 2022, https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data

Smith, A 2021, “Covid omicron variant linked to vaccine inequality, experts say,” NBC News , viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/omicron-linked-global-vaccine-inequality-experts-rcna6916

Taylor, A 2022, “Covax vaccine deliveries surge in final stretch of 2021, with a record 300 million doses sent out in December,” The Washington Post , viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/01/covid-covax-doses-delivered/

World Health Organization 2020, “Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation report – 1,” viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200121-sitrep-1-2019-ncov.pdf

World Health Organization 2021, “Genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2: a guide to implementation for maximum impact on public health,” viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240018440

Zhong, R, Mozur, P, & Krolik, A 2021, “No ‘negative’ news: How China censored the coronavirus,” New York Times , viewed 25 January 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/19/technology/china-coronavirus-censorship.html

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