Yazar: Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com – US President Joe Biden’s late debate on the idea of renouncing intellectual property rights in Covid-19 vaccines is more a matter of style than content, and the world should be grateful for nothing more than that.
Trade Advisor Katharine Tai pointed out last week that the US will support the idea of a ‘temporary’ exemption from intellectual property rights from Covid-19 vaccines to support global vaccine campaigns.
It’s a nice gesture. It portrays the United States as a noble and altruistic superpower capable of solving the world’s greatest problems: a true world leader who puts the good of humanity before the profits of pharmaceutical companies.
However, management knows that this is not possible. First, the proposal adopted by Tai is addressed by the World Trade Organization and in this case needs the unanimous support of all its members. Both the EU and, after some indecision, the UK stated that they do not support the idea.
Moreover, even if Europeans decide to support it, people like Moderna and Pfizer could postpone the process in US courts where property rights protection is more important than keeping the government looking good. The pandemic can end nicely when such obstacles are removed.
As a result, the Biden administration makes themselves look like good people and the Europeans are rude and grumpy. Meanwhile, the world continues to suffer.
There is no denying that vaccines must spread faster around the world. The slogan “No one is safe until we are all safe” is an unreasonable exaggeration, but as long as the fate of the rich world economy is tightly linked to the developing economy, there will be no complete liberation from the pandemic until the economies of India, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia return to normal.
India and South Africa really need it, where the over 4,000 official daily deaths are likely less than they are. South Africa, in particular, is deeply hurt by the reluctance of western pharmaceutical companies to charitably share HIV / AIDS drugs during an epidemic in the 1990s, when more than 11 million people died and many more were affected.
However, India has allowed mass political rallies during this year’s state election campaigns, but the more bitter truth is that India has not been able to use its twenty years of phenomenal economic growth to improve its public health system: India’s health spending is% of GDP in 2000. While it was 4, it barely reached 3.5% in the last year before Covid. During this time, he had plenty of money for both nuclear weapons and his own space program.
However, even leaving aside issues such as global equality between rich and poor, the arguments in favor of intellectual property exemptions are not convincing. The blood clotting issues triggered by the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are a reminder of how easily victory in the world of drug development can turn into something close to disaster.
Russia’s pharmaceutical industry has already proven that it cannot produce the Sputnik vaccine to consistent standards and ship defective batches to Slovakia and elsewhere. Reports from many places from Brazil to the Seychelles show that Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine is ineffective.
Vaccination is difficult. Allowing companies with unequal manufacturing capabilities around the world to make counterfeit versions of drugs that are visibly rushed from the approval process in the first place is an undue extra layer of risk.
And the risks of unsuccessfully launching counterfeit drugs on the market should not be overlooked. There are serious doubts about the ease of authorization process for Covid vaccines and the motivation of governments overseeing the process. These doubts have already spread far beyond the public. A high-profile setback with Covid-19 drugs could make rejection of vaccines mainstream for years and legitimate the conspiracy theory.
There are two reasons for intellectual property protections: to enable inventors to pay off for their creativity, thereby encouraging the next generation of inventors, and ensuring that new technology that benefits society is presented in a way that does not undermine these benefits. These are two huge public goods. Their cost is the extra profit currently accrued by Moderna and BioNTech. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but refusing to reward them would mean that at another time when the world urgently needed a miracle drug, the expensive R&D department needed to develop it wouldn’t be there.
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