by Dr Sarmad Syed
As 2019 drew to an end and we phased into 2020, the decade decided to go out with a bang.
Originating from China, COVID-19 emerged as a viral disease that seemingly had no cure and was about to shake the whole world. Come mid-July 2020; the US media started reporting on a COVID-19 vaccine being researched. Now, almost a year later, news about successful trials has given humankind a glimmer of hope.
COVID-19 vaccine- Elixir of Hope
Running the race are Pfizer and BioNTech, Johnson and Johnson, and the ‘Oxford vaccine’ developed at Oxford University, which is to be manufactured by AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals. By the end of 2020, 400m doses are to go to the UK and US, 400m doses to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, and 300 million doses are to be delivered to the rest of the developing countries. Sounds great, until you hear about the part where 1.3 billion doses will be given to low/middle income countries by the end of 2021.
Wealthy nations have bought their way to the cashier’s counter while developing nations are queuing outside the store.
The monopoly of medicine patency
It used to be health is wealth, but recent times and men’s greed have changed that for the worse. As it stands, now wealth is health, literally. Having money grants one access to the luxury of health. Pharmaceutical companies and individual researchers have, for long, enjoyed the benefits of patents over their intellectual properties. This will allow them to sell the COVID vaccine exclusively on their terms granting themsignificant profits until the patent expires. This will lead to an inability to mass-produce and distribute, leading to millions of deaths.
The war of vaccine: Pitting rich vs poor
Meanwhile, more than 140 World leaders like Imran Khan have signed an open letter, urging governments to take a united front on the “People’s Vaccine” for COVID-19. Subsequently, the letter demands that all vaccines be patent-free and made available to all people free of charge.
In other words, all eyes are now set on these companies. They can either step up and do the right thing or be immortalized in time as those who could have saved the world- but didn’t.
-The author is a contributing writer at Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at email@example.com