The coro­n­avirus (COVID-19) pan­dem­ic has put the world into tur­moil and coun­ter­mea­sures have par­a­lyzed areas of pub­lic life. Apart from the med­ical dimen­sion (the num­ber of dead and ill), future gen­er­a­tions are also affect­ed by an eco­nom­ic dimen­sion (eco­nom­ic slump) and a dimen­sion of finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty (rapid­ly grow­ing nation­al debt). The goal of polit­i­cal deci­sion-mak­ers should be to pre­vent these cumu­la­tive dam­ages. In this con­text, the most impor­tant mea­sure is a new vac­ci­na­tion strat­e­gy focus­ing on a holis­tic aver­sion of dam­age for upcom­ing gen­er­a­tions.

The Foun­da­tion for the Rights of Future Gen­er­a­tions (FRFG) iden­ti­fied two main aspects which hin­der the suc­cess­ful com­bat against infec­tious dis­eases: the unavail­abil­i­ty of vac­cine as well as the lack of will­ing­ness among the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion to get vac­ci­nat­ed.

From a future per­spec­tive, 2021 could be seen as the year in which human­i­ty final­ly man­aged to glob­al­ly erad­i­cate oth­er infec­tious dis­eases (e.g. typhoid, polio, measles or rubel­la), fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful mod­el of the erad­i­ca­tion of small­pox. A change of con­scious­ness would also lead to bet­ter prospects for infec­tious dis­eases which can­not be elim­i­nat­ed. If vac­cines were seen as “com­mon goods”, the annu­al num­ber of peo­ple dying from the flu would decrease over time. The FRFG there­fore demands of gov­ern­ments to fund research for pro­phy­lac­tic vac­cines, since vac­cines should be treat­ed as “glob­al pub­lic goods” and their devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion should pri­mar­i­ly be in gov­ern­ment hands. Anoth­er approach is to increase the will­ing­ness among the pop­u­la­tion to get vac­ci­nat­ed — espe­cial­ly in indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries. Here, every sin­gle mem­ber of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion has a duty of sol­i­dar­i­ty towards future gen­er­a­tions. Every­one should real­ize that and weigh it against self-inter­ests. When it comes to epi­demi­o­log­i­cal behav­ior, being respon­si­ble means to get vac­ci­nat­ed. More than ever, this also applies to adults.

Cur­rent­ly, the FRFG works on an issue for the Inter­gen­er­a­tional Jus­tice Review (IGJR). The aim of the issue 1/2021 is to estab­lish a link between vac­ci­na­tion, health and the well-being of future gen­er­a­tions.

 

Read our pol­i­cy paper