Ranking or spending money is only secondary metrics how to evaluate and compare performance e.g. among universities or countries or continents.
But I think fundamental is society, it's history and its attitude. I had opportunity to live and experience research in "western" country institute for couple years. This experience may apply to general research as well as to hunting vaccine competition:
- Oh your idea is great, let try and start
- we give you some time and administrative support to enhance the idea
- big pharma as well as small startups are close to university labs, so it's not hard to do quick experiments, trials, prototypes. Some networking events, conferences are common.
- you're good in what you're doing, we're among the best in the world
Now back in "central & eastern" european country usually underestimated. I now experience this attitude:
- Oh your idea is interesting, but somebody (from western countries) already works on this issue
- administrative support? Write proposal by yourself and we will only evaluate if the 'quota' was not reached so you won't compete with "more preferred" teams.
- usually big pharma or small startups are not close to university labs - if yes, that is "conflict of interest" and you "try to sell knowledge to nasty rich companies"
- there are better teams in the world in the topic doing what you do.
- you did unappropriate public critical comments about our dean, prime minister, president, ..., so forget for support
So as a result I can guess that in countries and societies from first group ("western") there are e.g. 20-50 teams trying different approach despite their political or other context. 2-5 succeed, the others that fail - they are not usually prosecuted but gain valuable experience. Some earn money and pay taxes, some become rich and invest again to western business and all society in general profits.
I guess that in countries and societies from second group ("eastern") only 2-5 teams try to make vaccine, other were disqualified by any point mentioned above. If 1 succeed despite condition - it is big success! Congratulation to Sputnik V! They earn money, probably pay taxes, some become rich and invest where? Do they rather to emigrate to west, not to be imprisoned like Navalnyj or Khodorkovskij? What about the other teams that do not succeed - are they prosecuted?
So in case of western approach - the luck is just statistical success rate.