Trade and Investment

Op-Ed: Authoritarian States are Using COVID Vaccines to Subvert Democracy

By Kevin Sheives and Ryan Arick

In the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Russia are engaged in a diplomatic offensive to gain maximum advantage from the global distribution of their vaccines. In a May 8 opinion piece for Nikkei Asia, International Forum for Democratic Studies associate director Kevin Sheives and program assistant Ryan Arick identify four patterns in vaccine diplomacy from authoritarian governments: they spread outright disinformation about Western vaccines, prioritize being first over being trustworthy, target political elite networks for early access, and secure unrelated political interests in exchange for vaccines. Democracies must take steps to mitigate the democratic risks of these vaccines, and must avoid trading away their principles for access.

Read the full op-ed in Nikkei Asia.


Photo Credit: Skrypnykov Dmytro /