One of the joys of this story is that we gain the opportunity to insult Nick Dearden:
Nick Dearden, executive director of Global Justice Now, one of the lead partner groups in an international coalition calling for WTO patent waivers at a crucial meeting of the world body next month, characterized Gates’ remarks — and the ideological framework behind them — as “disgusting.”
“Who appointed this billionaire head of global health?” asked Dearden. “Oh yeah, he did.”
Well, at least he has an actual achievement to his name which seems to beat your qualifications as head of global health.
But to the centre of the issue. The current call from the mouth breathers like Dearden is that all those patents on all those vaccines should be immediately vacated. Because, you know, intellectual property is killing people and all that.
Except that’s not actually the problem at all:
“Well, there’s only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines. And so moving something that had never been done — moving a vaccine, say, from a [Johnson & Johnson] factory into a factory in India — it’s novel — it’s only because of our grants and expertise that that can happen at all.”
The reference is to the Serum factory in India, the largest such institute in the country, which has contracts with AstraZeneca to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccine, known internationally as Covishield.
The thing that’s holding “things back” in terms of the global vaccine rollout, continued Gates, “is not intellectual property. It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines. You know, you’ve got to do the trial on these things. Every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way.”
The current shortage is of two things. Firstly, space in a vaccine factory which can then make covid vaccines. Secondly, competence at making covid vaccines. Neither of these problems are solved by vacating patents.
The bit that really means that Dearden can go boil his head is that any factory which does have space and is competent can gain access to all the vaccine IP there is. No one is limiting use of it presently anyway. Dearden’s entire complaint therefore fails – IP may exist, sure, but it’s not the limiting factor here. Making it free wouldn’t;t change the current world’s availability of vaccines one iota.
Of course, vacating the patents that peeps have just spent a few billions and then some in gaining would limit the number of vaccines we ever get in the future but then Dearden clearly believes there never will be any other disease that humans wish to control. Ever. Must be so otherwise he’d not want to cripple the method used to deal with them, would he?