JONAS Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, was asked on who owned his discovery. He replied, “The people. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
We could say the same thing for the vaccine for the Covid-19 virus when it is approved. To make sure that the people will own the vaccine, the message should be made clear to pharmaceutical companies that are developing vaccines. Yes, to a “people’s vaccine;” no, to a profit vaccine.
Salk’s statement was used by organizations behind the growing movement urging that, when a vaccine for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is developed, it should be produced rapidly and made available to all people free of charge.
Covid-19 survivors, those who took care of them, medical personnel and others afraid they might contract the Sars-CoV-2 that causes the disease joined the call by signing an open letter to pharmaceutical companies. They said the only way we can ensure Covid-19 vaccines reach everyone who needs them is by preventing monopolies and sharing knowledge to ramp up production.
“Some of us have lost loved ones to this killer disease. Some of us have come close to death ourselves. Some of us are continuing to live in fear that contracting this disease would be fatal for us. We see no justification why your profit or monopolies should mean anyone else should go through this. Many of us do not live in wealthy countries that have secured preferential access to vaccine candidates -- we know we would likely be at the back of any queue,” the open letter said.
It said no single corporation will be able to make enough vaccine quickly to ensure it is available for all who need it. We need a “People’s Vaccine,” not a profit vaccine.
“Instead, pharmaceutical corporations, such as yours, are carrying on with business as usual -- defending monopolies while refusing to share research and know-how. These barriers restrict production and drive up prices, leaving us all in danger... Taxpayers will not forget the billions of dollars that governments have invested in your companies to trial and roll out the medicines and vaccines that can save lives and end lockdowns. This public money should lead to vaccines that are available for all -- not for creating monopolies or maximizing profits,” the open letter stated. (https://peoplesvaccine.org/)
Those who signed the letter are people from several countries, including the Philippines which is among the nations that would be disadvantaged when it comes to purchasing the vaccine.
The government and individuals impacted by the economic slowdown will not have enough money to access the vaccine. The only hope for Filipinos and the people of developing countries is for a subsidy or free vaccines.
No one knows when the vaccine will be approved for general use or which one on trial will be approved but the push for a free vaccine should be made now because the numbers of cases and deaths continue to rise. I join the call.