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Patents and the Pandemic, Again

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/20/patents-and-pandemic-again


When Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk who owns the patent to the polio vaccine, Salk replied “the people”.

Although it took nearly a decade to get Salk’s vaccine to the point of widespread application, here is what to expect with COVID-19:

In mid October the US military will set up circus tents in every US county and vaccinate everybody who wants a vaccination at no cost to the patient.

On November 3, Trump’s second term victory will be attributed to the fastest vaccine development in history.

On November 4, headlines will read: VACCINE PROVEN INEFFECTIVE


Thanks for the heads up. I’ll decline the first round…maybe wait and see if it’s safe, even.


Kudos to Baker for keeping this open predatory greed and “legal” corruption in front of the public - hopefully they will read about it as the mass media will not cover the corporate intent, being owned by the powers in question, one way or another.

Baker writes: - “some companies are likely to profit off government-funded research, often while contributing little or nothing to developing effective vaccines or treatments” This needs to be edited to "Taxpayer funded"

Baker goes on to write: "the idea that the government should own the research it pays for* is too radical for public discussion. It is even more incredible that this lack of imagination cannot be overcome even as we are a facing a worldwide pandemic that is more deadly than anything we have seen in over a hundred years."

Again, this needs to be edited to: “that the public/taxpayers/society, should own the research they/we pay for” NOT greed-driven for-profit entities that lobby Congress and WH for policy decisions (and ability) that limits paying their fair-share of taxes to give-back to the society they rob-from!

“There are better ways to finance the development of new drugs and vaccines” - and better ways to describe the process and official corruption that steals from society for private profit…

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A great article, one that everyone needs to read. So much for the BS that competition always yields the best results. I doubt that many people are even thinking about how the race for a vaccine is more about a race for who can be the first to monopolize the market with a patent.

But the writer lost me here: “It is even more incredible that this lack of imagination cannot be overcome even as we are a facing a worldwide pandemic that is more deadly than anything we have seen in over a hundred years.”

Surely he knows that it is not a lack of imagination but a lack of political will on the part of our fasicsts – er, I mean leaders – who are not the least bit interested in doing what is best, for humanitarian purposes, but what is best for themselves and the corporate fat cats and the One Percent whom they dutifully serve.

For the millions of Americans who get their news from the networks–whose support derives to a large extent from pharmaceutical advertising–they will never hear of government funded research.

In every news story I’ve heard on the high cost of prescription drugs, network news reporters report ONLY that pharmaceutical companies bear the cost of research.

As Masha Gessen recently wrote, American journalism sucks because there’s never any context.

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Mark Twain, who had been a newspaper editor noted during the 19th century: “people who don’t read newspapers are uninformed, while those who do are misinformed”.


Excellent article. This needs to change, it is an abuse of the public interest in the worst possible way.

That is why some think we will never get this COVID-19 under control. Even when an effective vaccine does come available there will be plenty who don’t trust it, either from the usual anti-vaxxer crowd or people who don’t trust our institutions anymore. The U.S. is going to be a country size plague ship for a long time.

They are now hyping the steroid dexamethasone for COVID-19 but according to this article …

" Recent announcements indicated, without sharing any distinct published set of results, that the corticosteroid dexamethasone may reduce mortality of severe COVID-19 patients only. The recent Coronavirus [severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2]-associated multiorgan disease, called COVID-19, has high morbidity and mortality due to autoimmune destruction of the lungs stemming from the release of a storm of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Defense against this Corona virus requires activated T cells and specific antibodies. Instead, cytokines are responsible for the serious sequelae of COVID-19 that damage the lungs. Dexamethasone is a synthetic corticosteroid approved by the FDA 1958 as a broad-spectrum immunosuppressor and it is about 30 times as active and with longer duration of action (2-3 days) than cortisone. Dexamethasone would limit the production of and damaging effect of the cytokines, but will also inhibit the protective function of T cells and block B cells from making antibodies, potentially leading to increased plasma viral load that will persist after a patient survives SARS. Moreover, dexamethasone would block macrophages from clearing secondary, nosocomial, infections. Hence, dexamethasone may be useful for the short-term in severe, intubated, COVID-19 patients, but could be outright dangerous during recovery since the virus will not only persist, but the body will be prevented from generating protective antibodies. Instead, a pulse of intravenous dexamethasone may be followed by administration of nebulized triamcinolone (6 times as active as cortisone) to concentrate in the lungs only. These corticosteroids could be given together with the natural flavonoid luteolin because of its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, especially its ability to inhibit mast cells, which are the main source of cytokines in the lungs. "

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Suppose you’re a pharm in Germany and need gov help for working on the vaccine. What I assume is the gov of Germany will not help you out if your track record on sharing info is not good (and by sharing I don’t mean “industrial espionage,” iow sliding it over to Merck under the table for $).

So, here is my argument against Norquist and the Libertarians: Without national governments who will modify the behavior (to share)?