The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

“Intellectual Property” Law Set To Kill Millions By Slowing Covid-19 Vaccine Access

Jonas Salk, who refused to patent the polio vaccine

Worldwide deaths from Covid-19 sit at 1.39 million, though that’s certainly an understatement, especially when one adds in people who died of other causes who wouldn’t have if Covid-19 wasn’t soaking up resources. (I recently read of a man dying of a perforated gallbladder in the US who wouldn’t have pre-Covid.)

We have vaccines coming out in the new year, and they are good vaccines, with 90%+ success rates and few bad reactions, so far as the current data indicates.

But the current timeline is that there won’t be enough vaccine until 2024 to vaccinate everyone.

There’s a way to speed it up, however. Release the information on how to manufacture the drugs so that any facility which has the ability to make them can.

The US, UK and EU, among others, are opposing that idea.

That’s going to kill a LOT of people and destroy a lot of businesses, throw a lot of people on the street, etc, etc.

(It’s my annual fundraiser (and going slower than normal this year.) If you value my writing and can afford to, please consider donating.)

There’s no reason why every company with an effective vaccine shouldn’t make money, we can simply pool some money up and give it to them. That’s fair, that’s reasonable, that doesn’t destroy the economy and massive numbers of lives in poor countries.

I note, by the way, that China, which has three vaccines in late development is OK with this. They’re the bad guys, we’re constantly told, but in this case they’re doing the right thing, the moral thing. It’s the “good” guys who aren’t.

If you’re in the 1st world, don’ t worry, your government will make sure you’re taken care of. But in the developed world this could drag on for two more years than necessary.

I note, also, that in macro-economic terms this is stupid. Full vaccination allows full opening of borders and a return to trade, tourism and so on. Dragging the process out so that the economy can’t return to full power will cost far more money than any amount which can be earned by squeezing poor countries for as much money as possible.



And Here I Had Some Faint Hope for Biden


Open Thread


  1. anon

    Of course the US and Europe don’t want to share the vaccine with the rest of the world that is largely made up of people who are poor, who are not white, or both. That has been their modus operandi for quite some time. This should come as a surprise to no one.

    The US considers any non-white country (other than Russia) that challenges their power to be the “bad guys.” If withholding the vaccine means that many of these developing countries suffer for years and their economies collapse, that’s even better to ensure that they never become a threat to the current world order. The US and the UK never had a problem with watching millions of black and brown people die before. Why would they change now?

    If China produces a vaccine with over 90% efficacy and works with countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America to distribute it, that will very much upset the US and Europe. I hope it happens.

  2. GM

    I note, also, that in macro-economic terms this is stupid. Full vaccination allows full opening of borders and a return to trade, tourism and so on.

    In “macroeconomic terms”

    But the pandemic has actually revealed that it was never really about the “economy”.

    If it was, the virus would have been eradicated by now.

    It is about who controls the economy, and if the economy gets smaller but the people controlling preserve their position, that is fine.

    This is just another manifestation of the same principle

    Yes, doing the moral thing would help the economy, but it would set a dangerous precedent (that “intellectual property” is not sacrosanct) so it can not be allowed.

  3. Joseph

    Ian, ‘Millions?’ Get a grip. . . .

  4. Zachary Smith

    It’s possible to hope the greedy bastards may end up shooting themselves in the foot. First of all, there are an awful lot of vaccine programs going on around the world. Surprising example:

    Cuba leads race for Latin American coronavirus vaccine

    Cuba has TWO vaccines in the works. The Russian vaccine may become extremely desirable for a single reason:

    “Covid vaccine: Russia to produce freeze-dried versions for easier transportation”
    Updated: 16 Nov 2020

    This would get the vaccine to the interior of New Guinea or Central Africa without major logistical issues.

    Somebody may yet produce an oral vaccine. Possibly even a nasal one using a mist.

    The anti-vaxxers are already working very hard to frighten people, and we can’t afford to give them any ammunition. A tragedy like the one in 1955 with the Polio immunizations would be amplified by the nuts to do untold damage. I’m not going to link to an article I read earlier today, but a Famous Name Fruitcake out east is already ginning up his propaganda mill.

  5. Zachary Smith

    Death rate so far in the US of A = 75 per 100,000 population.

    Population of planet Earth according to the Internet Tubes – 7,861,000,000

    Division of 7.8 billion by 100,000 = 78,610

    Multiply 78,610 by 75 = 6,132,000

    Large numbers aren’t unthinkable.

    No doubt “intellectual property” would be applied to far more deadly diseases. I can easily imagine Big Pharma and their apologists sitting on their hands in a global smallpox or Black Death situation.

  6. S Brennan

    But…but…Hitle..rr…I mean Trump just “announced a change of rules to lower Medicare medicine prices, and is now facing a Big Pharma backlash” so…as a blue-no-matter-who-D I must be for higher medicine prices…right?

    Because if Trump say’s “pointless foreign wars bad”, I must support pointless foreign wars..right? It’s so hard to be a get-along-go-along “liberal”, “progressive”, “lefty” now-a-days isn’t it?

  7. BlizzardOfOzzz

    You guys are gonna freak out when you see how many people die every day of something called “heart disease”.

  8. I thought they were ‘crisis actors’, lizard, you running out of booze?

  9. Willy

    The Dems tried reducing drug prices for seniors last year but McConnell killed it.

    His reason:
    “Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system. And of course we’re not going to be calling up a bill like that.”

  10. UserFriendly

    I’m not opposed to the idea but Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines and COVID is the first time mRNA has been used to make a vaccine. It isn’t obvious that other countries have the technical ability to manufacture them and almost certainly do not have the cold- chain storage required to distribute them.

  11. UserFriendly

    There is also a history of that not working out well. Which isn’t to say that it couldn’t.

  12. Jeremy

    This all has got absolutely NOTHING to do with saving lives. Absolutely NOTHING.
    It’s all about making money.

    Funny how Remdesivir (Donald Rumsfeld’s old firm) was able to obtain Early Use Authorization for a $3000 per dose drug that was subsequently found to be utterly ineffective and withdrawn – after they’d made millions. This entire clusterfuck has been about a “confluence of financial interests” and is being milked for all it can be.

    Listen for a few minutes from the 1:54:22 mark:

    “…government culpability and malfeasance” , “… academic malfeasance” ,

  13. Jeremy

    Donald Rumsfeld’s old firm – Gilead.

    Read and weep.

  14. Willy

    Speaking of Blizzards, cancer is even worse. But this is about avoidable deaths. And willful stupidity.

    Lets revisit those 5 states we discussed which were coronavirus restriction free, back in the spring. Freedom states I believe they were called.

    So today, in terms of current covid cases per million, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa now rank first, second and third in the nation, respectively. Nebraska ranks fifth. And Arkansas is twelfth. Some of the least densely populated states in the nation they be.

    Lets examine those densely populated coastal states again, which had led the nation in incidence back in the spring. Currently, in cases per million we have New York (35th), New Jersey (30th), and California (42).

    Gee, I wonder what happened?

  15. If this is technologically feasible, what is your theory of why this doesn\’t happen already through licensing agreements? Reputational/regulatory risk?

    AstraZeneca has pursued this, in fact; but their vaccine is much simpler than the Moderna/Pfizer ones, so maybe it\’s not technologically feasible for the mRNA vaccines to be produced elsewhere than the handful of production sites that Pfizer/Moderna have built.

    BTW, a simple alternative would be for them to buy the patent rights outright and put them in the public domain. Get Pfizer and Moderna in a room and start an auction to buy out the patents of the lowest bidder and release them into the public domain. It makes perfect sense economically to spend 20 billion USD or EUR on this, but politically it\’s a non-starter. (Although, if it is true that only a handful of sites can actually produce it, this can easily backfire as you can end up buying out Moderna\’s patent and then realize only Moderna can produce it).

  16. Ian Welsh

    If the issue is technological, they could simply say that, that’s not what they’re saying, they’re saying IP. Since it’s their reputation on the line as you say, if “it’s too complicated” is the explanation, they should say that.

    So far they haven’t.

    China makes a ton of pharma, by the way, and a quick google search shows evidence they have mRNA manufacturing facilities.

    The Pfizer vaccine is a no-go because it needs to be stored at very cold temperatures, and in a lot of third world countries that limits distribution radically, certainly in India.

    If they’re going to provide at cost anyway, then why not open it up? If they aren’t, well then, they’d have a reason, wouldn’t they? If it’s too technologically advanced, well, they could say that.

    Not sure why anyone’s first impulse would be to give American and British pharma companies the benefit of the doubt when it comes to IP and price gouging, though. That seems odd, given their track record. A quick google of Pfizer pulls up enough dirt and corruption to shame a US Senator, for example.

    Perhaps they want to make as much money as possible? Perhaps that’s in line with most of their record, a few exceptions aside? Perhaps PR isn’t as valuable as cold hard cash? Perhaps they don’t want to give up their IP, even if it means some people will die who wouldn’t otherwise?

  17. RobotPliers

    Joseph and Zachary Smith:

    Assume IFR is ~1%. Its higher in developed countries with greater elderly populations, lower in young, developing countries. It’s higher when hospital capacity gets overwhelmed, lower when capacity does not. It’s lowering over time due to better therapeutics and treatments, though this is mostly in developed countries and also contingent on capacity not getting overwhelmed. So try low/med/high IFRs of 0.5% / 1% / 1.5%

    Global population of 7.8 billion. Assume 50% of everyone gets it eventually (this is probably low).

    0.005*7,800,000,000*0.5 = 19.5 million deaths
    0.01*7,800,000,000*0.5 = 39 million deaths
    0.015*7,800,000,000*0.5 = 58.5 million deaths

    It adds up. Yes, millions. Many, many millions.

  18. Ten Bears

    Damndest thing is, it’s not about the bug – the trump-bug, trump flu, trump plague. It’s about the response. This bug, it don’t matter where it came from: thawing out of the thawing tundra, jumping from dead bat to undercooked dog to unhealthy human or out of a bioweapons lab in Tel Aviv this bug, which has proven itself to be fairly lethal though not excessively so, is not the one that’s gonna’ kill us all. We been given an opportunity, a godsend if you will though I imagine she’s rather disappointed, to test ourselves against the next dog/pig/bird/bat flu that comes along, or perhaps a twenty thousand year old anthrax thawing out of the tundra that hasn’t seen a human since we before we were human, or a genetically tailored flu designed to kill only the not-white, and we failed. We could not collectively get our shit together to prevent its spread, could not take a few simple measures to protect ourselves and those around us. In the US (the topic at hand) alone as of yesterday, a total of 254,320 U.S. citizens have died. Just yesterday the US had 198,53 7 new cases, 2,000 deaths and 82,178 fresh hospitalizations.

    All we do is bicker over whose imaginary dog has a bigger dick.

    This isn’t the bug that’s gonna’ kill us all, but the next one might be.

    Too damned many people on the planet anyways. What’s a few millions?

  19. ProNewerDeal

    Sadly the vast majority of even IndyMedia, & a supermajority of the mass communicators in CorpMedia, Politicians, & Public Health communicators like Fauci; + regular people ignore LONG COVID.

    Ian Welsh, NC are among the few in IndyMedia or people IN GENERAL to mention Long COVID.

    Most people are falsely talking in a binary of death vs full recovery, & this rate for the under-60 is under 1% anyways so society should downplay COVID.

    My layperson take is that Long COVID IS the LARGEST RISK to most of the population, especially the under-60 cohorts.

    A UK study shows Long COVID effects up to 20% of COVID patients. Permanent lung/heart/organ damage is 1 of the symptom types. Brain fog, mental illness, inability to cardio exercise/breathing difficulty are other symptoms that may last for months, with a minority of worst affected still experiencing symptoms months later with even COVID experts not knowing when/IF these symptoms will stop, due to COVID being a new disease lacking a history to learn from.

    1 example of Long COVID victim, 27 yr old 6’2″ 205 lb (e.g. more combo of fit/healthy/young than myself & 99+% of yall including the COVID-downplaying Fake Macho Man types, this is not an obese Bartolo Colon-type guy) MLB pitcher Rodriguez with heart illness. Rodriguez missed the season with this heart illness.

    Plus I wonder what the VeryLong health outcomes are? Suppose Rodriguez may in a no-COVID alternative Universe lived healthy until age 80. Instead his permanent heart damage causes earlier death or significant disability at age 60?

  20. NR

    “You guys are gonna freak out when you see how many people die every day of something called “heart disease”.”

  21. Willy

    I think of Dr. Steven Turley, recommended here by our own Thomas Golliday.

    When I scroll through his long list of videos, I notice that every single one is boldly titled with some concrete declaration, irrefutable predictions, and that every single one has turned out to be utterly wrong. Yet he doesn’t delete any of the videos or hide his head in shame. Worse, he still gets thousands of views. I thought that red pilling was supposed to be about facing down the harshness of reality.

    This is a mental illness of some kind.

  22. Jeremy

    If you’re interested in refreshing your DNA/RNA knowledge and implications for the various vaccines under development then have have listen.

    Virologist Dr. Stanley Lahan explains why he would deffinitely not take the Pfizer/Moderna mRNA vaccine.


  23. UserFriendly

    Both US vaccines so far are mRNA and both need cold chain distribution. I’m 100% in favor of nationalizing the entire pharma industry and spit roasting the CEO’s. Don’t mistake pointing out information to strengthen your argument with advocacy for the worst people on the planet.

  24. Licensing agreements would bring in more revenue as long as production is limited (and if they take too long, eventually other vaccines will be available). So, if Pfizer is greedy, why would it not want more money?

    Given that nobody has ever produced an mRNA vaccine before, I’m truly not sure anyone has the ability to do so at scale except these companies that have spent the last few years thinking about this and the last 6 months setting up production facilities. It’s not just the synthesis of the mRNAs (which indeed is fairly standard and make places have the ability to do so), but producing the whole thing at vaccine-grade standards.

    Who is saying it’s an IP limitation?

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