Pharmaceutical lobbying and pandemic stockpiling: A feeling of déjà vu in the Nordic countries and why the sociological perspective is crucial to understand COVID-19

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Abstract

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has spread globally in a short period of time and quickly developed into a pandemic. In connection with its progress, entire cities and countries have been closed down, people are quarantined, and infrastructure and trade have been suspended. As this is a new virus, no vaccine or antiviral drugs are available, but instead non-medical measures such as social distancing may be used to reduce the spread. The Nordic countries, which are known for their similar welfare systems, have chosen pandemic strategies without coordinating with their neighbours. Over one night, Denmark closed the bridge to Sweden and shut down its society, while Sweden keeps as much open as possible and recommends its residents to comply with general advice on reducing the spread. Notably, this is the second time in a short time where Denmark and Sweden diverge in their pandemic response. In 2009, during the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak, Denmark only vaccinated risk-groups whereas Sweden pursued a mass vaccination strategy. In a previous research project, we compared Sweden’s and Denmark’s contrasting pandemic response focusing on pharmaceutical interventions in terms of vaccination and antivirals. The pressing need to find a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic means that risks and shortcuts may have to be taken in order to come up with a vaccine with apparent risks to individual health. We can therefore see the current pandemic as an opportunity to expand sociological research, since Nordic cooperation once again is uncoordinated, despite signals and agreements of otherwise, and different drugs are fast tracked and already tested in human trials.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Keywords

  • antivirals, COVID-19, Pandemic, pharmaceuticalisation, vaccines
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-442
JournalActa Sociologica
Volume63
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 8
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes