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Vaccines | Munk Debates

SEASON TWO - EPISODE #17

Vaccines

Be it resolved: To fight this pandemic and the next, vaccines should be free to everyone the world over.

Guests
Dean Baker
Thomas B. Cueni

About this episode

We are now into the fourth month of the largest global vaccination programme in history with over 335 million COVID-19 jabs administered in 108 countries. Critics of the vaccine rollout are deeply concerned about the inequitable distribution of the life saving inoculations. They say the vast majority of vaccinations have taken place in wealthy countries with inoculation rates dramatically lower in Asia and almost non-existent in Africa. They argue that we are experiencing an artificially created shortage and the culprit is intellectual property protection rights that give a small number of pharmaceuticals control over the global manufacturing and supply. The solution is a simple one: remove World Trade Organization intellectual property rights for the duration of the COVID crisis so that countries can manufacture their own vaccine supplies and save possibly hundreds of thousands of lives.

Proponents of intellectual property protections argue that this would be disruptive and undermine future investment in innovation, and hard work that go into producing effective treatments for deadly diseases. Removing these protections will undermine future drug development needed to prepare for future pandemics while doing nothing to contribute to the unprecedented challenge of how to safely manufacture billions of doses in a short period of time. Vaccine production requires knowhow and trained employees to run hugely complex and highly regulated manufacturing processes. Rather than suspend COVID-19 vaccine patents, the answer to an equitable vaccine roll out lies in international collaboration to scale up manufacturing and in the COVAX public private sector partnership that works to ensure that everyone, regardless of wealth, has access to safe and effective vaccines.

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Guests

Dean Baker

"If we got rid of the tech transfer and patent monopoly obstacles we could have many, many more vaccines in the developing world. Publicly funded research, particularly open source research, would leave us much better prepared for the next pandemic."

Dean Baker

"If we got rid of the tech transfer and patent monopoly obstacles we could have many, many more vaccines in the developing world. Publicly funded research, particularly open source research, would leave us much better prepared for the next pandemic."

Dean Baker is co-founder and senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a think tank in Washington DC. His areas of research include housing and macroeconomics, intellectual property, Social Security, Medicare and European labor markets. He is the author of several books, including Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer. His blog, “Beat the Press,” provides commentary on economic reporting. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan.  

Thomas B. Cueni

"We are getting it right. The industry is delivering. Science is winning. Waiving Intellectual Property on COVID-19 products would be a disincentive to innovation for future pandemics."

Thomas B. Cueni

"We are getting it right. The industry is delivering. Science is winning. Waiving Intellectual Property on COVID-19 products would be a disincentive to innovation for future pandemics."

Thomas B. Cueni is Director General of IFPMA, the global association of pharmaceutical research companies, based in Geneva and represents the innovative biopharmaceutical industry on the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a unique global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. He is Secretary of the global Biopharmaceutical CEO Roundtable (BCR), Chair AMR Industry Alliance, Chair of the Business at OECD Health Committee, and also serves on the Board of Directors of the City Cancer Challenge (CCan). 

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