“Vaccines against Covid-19 are a common good, they cannot belong to anyone”

Tribune. In an exceptional situation, an exceptional remedy, they say. Normally, it takes ten years before a drug is authorized for sale, then another ten years of marketing by a single operator before the patent falls into the public domain as a “generic”. This term designates a product free of rights and accessible to all.

Now, with the Covid-19, humanity is going through an unprecedented crisis in its history. There are remedies, but not enough and not for everyone, since only a few manufacturers have the patents with the right to produce them. A right bought to enjoy twenty years of monopoly. A right outdated by the historical moment and which does not take into account the current disaster. The twenty-year period of private monopoly applied to anti-Covid-19 vaccines would be so absurd, so ill-suited to the planetary situation, that only our ideological ruts prevent us from calling it into question. We cannot wait twenty years.

Read also BioNTech and Pfizer promise accelerated vaccine dose deliveries to European Union

The industrial monopoly on vaccines is dangerous and it is unfair. It is dangerous because we are wasting precious time. Besides the financial price, the production and sales system of some private industries will never be able to keep pace. At this rate, for too long an insufficient number of people will be vaccinated and the Covid-19 virus will continue to circulate, kill and mutate all over the planet. With these mutations, other vaccines could be necessary, other treatments would have to be invented, produced and bought at a high price.

Hierarchies among human beings

But above all, much more aggressive forms of the virus could appear. It is true that we have already gotten used to a lot since the start of this epidemic. How will we react the day when, through a mutation, the Covid-19 will start killing young people and children? The more time passes, the less we vaccinate on the five continents, and the more we risk random mutations that we did not foresee.

The monopoly and the shortage of vaccines it generates are unfair because they effectively create hierarchies between human beings. They separate and distinguish the rich from the poor, the young from the old, caregivers from educators, workers from the unlawful, powerful nations from others, etc. At the start of 2021, the richest countries own and distribute, sometimes at a steep price, the vast majority of existing vaccines. In whose name? In the name of what ?

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