It’s Time to Use Eminent Domain on the Coronavirus Vaccines

 (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

Arnab Acharya and Sanjay Reddy in Foreign Policy:

Jonas Salk, the scientist who developed the first effective polio vaccine, when asked “Who owns this patent?”, replied, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” In a world where private companies reap the fruits of developing vaccines, many now view this attitude as quaint. But quite apart from the philosophical case, there are compelling practical reasons to adopt Salk’s attitude, and treat all vaccine formulas that have proved effective against COVID-19, like the sun, as a global public good.

The easiest way to make vaccines truly available to all is to freely license every effective vaccine formula so that generic producers can manufacture the vaccine anywhere. This approach would overcome the short-run limits on production, which come from intellectual-property restrictions that constrain production to specific firms. Doing away with this barrier would ensure that the vaccines are produced and sold by many actors in a competitive marketplace, and made available to the public at the least cost.

More here.