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.
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