Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Coronavirus 61 A Great Wrong

In January 2020, Sarah Gilbert and her colleagues had done the work to show that a covid vaccine was possible and it was soon apparent that it would be needed. During that year production facilities should have been built on such a scale that by the time the vaccines had been demonstrated to be safe and effective, towards the end of 2020, doses could have been manufactured on a scale that befitted the task of vaccinating everybody, some 7.9 billion of us.

The task would have been unprecedented but so was the need. It would have involved the greatest switch of industrial effort, at least since World War II, but it would have been possible.

We have been taught to congratulate ourselves on the 'success' of the vaccine roll-out, but it is illusory. The world's governments failed their task in 2020. They failed to do it again in 2021. Most people in the poorer parts of the world remain unvaccinated. That has allowed the pandemic to continue, the virus to mutate to ever more infectious variants, and the disease to come back and bite us again.

Our lack of ambition in production effort and our greedy and selfish maintenance of intellectual property rights have been the biggest own goal in human history.

It has been a Great Wrong.

In an end of year discussion on DiEM TV Yanis Varoufakis invited Noam Chomsky to reflect on the situation. Here is a transcript of Chomsky's response

Take Omicron, it’s perfectly clear why this happened and why it will happen again. The rich countries have monopolized vaccines for themselves and have insisted on preserving the outlandish property rights agreements, patent rights, assigned to the basically monopoly pricing rights, assigned to the pharmaceutical corporations in the mislabelled free trade agreements, which means that, for example, Moderna, which was a small company, was able to use extensive government funding, government research. To develop a very effective vaccine. Propelled several of the management up into the super billionaire category. But they will not permit South Africa, which has a pharmaceutical industry to produce their vaccines. It means that South Africa could not vaccinate the population sufficiently to withhold the ongoing mutations. It means that in the unvaccinated South there’s a potential for a mutation which can lead to serious consequences. Of course, will spread back to the west. The wealthy and the powerful are – who recognize all this, they understand it – are willing to place the profits of the major pharmaceutical corporations and their prerogatives - given in the improper trade agreements – place that above the lives of many millions of people and even the welfare of their own populations. It’s an interesting value system.
 

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