Salon tries to blame drug companies for new COVID variant

November 29, 2021

By Tim Worstall

Salon really should know by now that the problem with vaccinating the poor countries isn’t about patents. But they publish a Common Dreams piece that blames not just poor vaccination rates but the emergence of the Omicron variant entirely on the capitalist drug companies and their intellectual property. This is all entirely an invention of Global Justice Now, a group that campaigns against capitalism, let alone patents on medicines.

As Salon publishes, the problem is, apparently, all that greed of the pharmaceutical companies “….been calling for world leaders to waive intellectual property on coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments so they can produce their own jabs,” and that such righteous calls have been ignored is why there are still unvaccinated. Thus, and therefore, the emergence of the variant.

The problem with this insistence comes in two parts. Firstly, the number of places that can effectively make vaccines of this type is limited. In fact, every place that can is. Releasing more information doesn’t change this in the slightest. Further, all the information can be gained just by asking any of the pharma companies. We might then think that there’s a financial problem but again there isn’t. While this is still classed as an emergency then no fess or royalties are payable. The limitation is, and only is, plants and workforces that are capable of making the vaccines. This not being something that is solved by anything to do with patents.

The second part is that Global Justice Now actively campaigns against capitalism itself. That’s fine, it’s a – for now – free world, and folks can campaign for whatever they like. Part of their campaign has been a long-running fight against the very idea of drug patents. However wrong we think they are on both points, capitalism and patents, it is still that free world.

The problem comes when they use the current pandemic disaster as a hobby horse to smuggle their campaign into the mainstream. Drug and vaccine patents have no effect at all currently on vaccine availability. But they’re saying they do – and thus deflecting attention from actual solutions to real problems – as part of its political campaign, not as anything useful like aiding poor people against disease.



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