April 28, 2020

Vaccines for all

How to Develop a COVID-19 Vaccine for All

Messages from Mazzucato and Torreele:
The first, critical step is to adopt a mission-oriented approach that focuses both public and private investments on achieving a clearly defined common goal: developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine(s) that can be produced at global scale rapidly and made universally available for free. Realizing this aim will require firm rules regarding intellectual property (IP), pricing, and manufacturing, designed and enforced in ways that value international collaboration and solidarity, rather than competition between countries.
Second, to maximize the impact on public health, the innovation ecosystem must be steered to use collective intelligence to accelerate advances. Science and medical innovation thrives and progresses when researchers exchange and share knowledge openly, enabling them to build upon one another’s successes and failures in real time.
Third, countries must take the lead in building and buttressing manufacturingcapabilities, particularly in the developing world. While an effective COVID-19 vaccine probably will not be available for another 12-18 months, a concerted effort is needed now to put in place the public and private capacity and infrastructure needed to produce rapidly the billions of doses that will be required.
Because we don’t know yet which vaccine will prove most effective, we may need to invest in a range of assets and technologies. This poses a technological and financial risk that can be overcome only with the help of entrepreneurial states backed by collective, public-interest-driven financing, such as from national and regional development banks, the World Bank, and philanthropic foundations.
Finally, conditions for ensuring global, equitable, and affordable access must be built into any vaccine-development program from the start. This would allow public investments to be structured less like a handout or simple market-fixer, and more like a proactive market-shaper, driven by public objectives.

PS. Masks, tests, treatments, vaccines – why we need a global approach to fighting Covid-19 now
Bill Gates dixit:
 I’m a big believer in capitalism – but some markets simply don’t function properly in a pandemic, and the market for lifesaving supplies is an obvious example. The private sector has an important role to play, but if our strategy for fighting Covid-19 devolves into a bidding war among countries, this disease will kill many more people than it has to.

Edward Hopper. Cape Cod Morning, 1950. Smithsonian American Art Museum