An op-ed by Sophia Crabbe-Field, published on July 8th in Democracy Journal, explains the debate over access to COVID-19 vaccines and the need for people’s vaccine:
Should the pharmaceutical industry be successful in convincing the world they are indeed the heroes of the story, simply by putting out safe and effective treatments for American patients, the American public could remain mostly in the dark about what delays were created or opportunities were missed along the way by eschewing a system of open knowledge on medicines. They could also remain in the dark about just how much it was actually public money and government scientists that were responsible for developing a vaccine. Alternatives to the existing monopoly system, those promoted by health groups including Doctors Without Borders, politicians like Bernie Sanders, and economists from Joseph Stiglitz to Mariana Mazzucato—including pools, prize funds, grants, or even government-run agencies—could remain on the margins of public debate. Yet should the pharmaceutical industry fail in this endeavor, the world is watching. The patent-based system that has too often locked away knowledge to the detriment of our health could be cracked open, and alternative mechanisms for acquiring and sharing life-saving knowledge may finally see the light of day.