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Dynamic Games and Applications Seminar

Sharks, Squalene and COVID Vaccines - When a Scarce Renewable Resource Becomes Strategic in Short Run


May 12, 2022   11:00 AM — 12:00 PM

Agnieszka Wiszniewska-Matyszkiel Warsaw University, Poland

Agnieszka Wiszniewska-Matyszkiel

Presentation on YouTube

In this paper, we model the problem of "the tragedy of the commons" that appears in the context of current pandemic, describing one of the aspects whose potential consequences hasn't been investigated. It is related to the fact that some of COVID-19 vaccines at various stages of development use adjuvants based on squalene obtained from endangered deep-sea shark species. We model the squalene market, with such COVID-19 vaccines producers as a part of it, as a compound dynamic game taking into account various aspects of this market. One of them is the privileged position of relatively small number of those vaccine producers.

The game describes a market consisting of pharmaceutical, cosmetic and fishing sector. We calculate Nash and Stackelberg equilibria in which COVID-19 vaccine producers do not take into account their influence on the population of sharks. We prove the existence and uniqueness of equilibria together with deriving the formula to find it. We discuss the consequences of relaxing the assumption of vaccine producers myopia concerning sharks.

"The tragedy of the commons" in both cases results in endangering of the vaccination programme, including COVID vaccines: either because of depletion of the shark population or its reduction to a level at which the cost of squalene production exceeds the maximal price that can be paid for it. So, the solution of ''the tragedy'' by a regulatory institution is suggested, with various remedies that can be used by it.

Despite using terminology related to a specific problem of high current importance, this may be treated as a starting point to a general theory emphasizing the need to indicate other potential scarce renewable resources for which similar phenomena are likely to appear in the future, in order to counteract such risks a priori.

Georges Zaccour organizer
Mahsa Mahboob Ghodsi organizer


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Montréal Québec

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