Who should regulate access to vaccines?
Reports from pharmaceutical companies about the effectiveness of their Covid vaccines are fuelling hopes that the pandemic could end in the near future. But many questions remain unanswered, especially those dealing with how vaccines can be distributed fairly around the world. The media are at odds over whether the market should call the shots, or whether world health is a matter that transcends the economic success of manufacturers.
The market accelerates innovation
Thomas Cueni, head of the Association of the Swiss Pharmaceutical Industry, answers in Le Temps the question of whether the composition of the vaccines should be made known to everyone:
“It is disappointing that some players are proposing that national and international legal frameworks for intellectual property should be weakened during the pandemic. Precisely because industry can fall back on decades of research and a strong innovation ecosystem, we can now see light at the end of the tunnel. It is innovation, powered by the intellectual property system, that will help us survive this pandemic - and probably many others.”
Market destroying world health
Covid vaccines should be a public good, argues political scientist and leading anti-globalist Riccardo Petrella in Le Soir:
“If, as proposed by many states and organisations in recent months, Covid vaccines are to be global public goods, they cannot be 'made' by private organisations. At a special session of the UN General Assembly, states that advocate 'people's vaccines' as 'global public goods' must inform companies that receive authorisation to sell them in their country that they will resort to compulsory licenses - meaning that they will not apply patent rules for therapies against Covid-19. The universal right to health is impossible to realise under the current system, which is based on private health monopolies such as patents.”