Various phrases have been dreamed up to describe the practice of many western countries - especially those with large pharmaceutical industries - of pre-ordering doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine nationalism is one. Others sometimes refer to the practice as "vaccine hoarding". This is deeply problematic. It is talking as if the vaccines are there, on the shelf. Graphs showing vaccine capacity and comparing that to the level of pre-orders (such as in this article) fail to adequately explain the cause and effect relationship between these two factors.
Consider the risks - there are many promising candidates and pathways to a vaccine, but the odds are, frankly, long. For the vaccine researcher huge sums of money must be spent in research, development, and testing. Yet without a pre-booked order for the vaccine, this may all be lost - not just by failure to make a viable and useful vaccine, but possibly by a more effective vaccine candidate coming on to the market, which is bought in preference. If you are conservatively managed business, perhaps, not unusually in a time of economic crisis, an eye on conserving capital, you may decide not to progress a vaccine option unless you were really confident about it. Yet the world needs the companies to take these risks. In fact, the more the better.
The scale of the cost (human and financial) of the pandemic is such that the value of effective vaccines is very, very large. By offering to pre-order doses governments are encouraging much more investment both in the science of researching vaccine and in the capacity to produce the vaccines. Turning back to the graph of capacity again and you can see the relationship between capacity and the size of the pre-orders. Far from reducing pre-orders, which would reduce the number of candidates advanced and the capacity to produce them, governments should increase pre-orders, to make it a better bet for teams to invest in the search - as argued by this article.
International co-operation will be essential to any medium to long-term strategy with regard to COVID-19. It is truly a case of all being in this together - as, while there is a pool of infected people out there, reinfection could occur. However, it would be crazy for any government to lock themselves into a strategy right now. After all, so much is not known. The virus could mutate and fade away, or several good vaccines could be developed, or it takes a very long-time to develop a vaccine. Or a break through treatment is found - but no vaccine. Each might require substantially different implementation strategies. It seems best to wait and see how the situation develops before betting the farm on any particular approach.