as we talk about the morality of vaccine patents

i think it is a nice time to also remember historical precident

jonas salk did not patent the polio vaccine. he went out of his way to make sure it was not patented.

he never got rich. he actively made sure he didn't get rich off of it.

but that history is full of stories about how for the rest of his life, jonas salk did not have to ever pay for a beer in any bar in this country. he would get on airplanes and once somebody recognized his name, the entire damn plane would stand up and clap for him. he constantly had hotel rooms comped, meals for free at restaurants, thus and so.

because he was surrounded by people who knew he had saved their children from having to ever consider the fear of an iron lung, and were overwhelmingly grateful for it.

he was always modest and demure when recognized thusly. but i think that when people start saying "well why else would someone make a vaccine, if not to get paid for it and hold the patent", i think it is good to remember these stories. the world did not punish jonas salk for not patenting the polio vaccine. the world loved him for it. maybe not in the structures that billionaires are most used to. but they did love him for it, in small ways, in humble ways, on the individual level.

there was also apparently legal questions of "but we're using everybody's research, can we even patent this thing?" that went into the decision to just not patent it

and i think you could very convincingly make a similar case for the covid-19 vaccine, as there was a great effort to pool resources and data to get a solution as quickly as possible if only somebody had enough money to hire enough fancy lawyers to ominously shake that particular can full of pennies at the situation

honestly the more i think about it the more this becomes a "i wish the capitalists would fucking pretend to at least be competent about doing a capitalism"


ok imagine you're a company holding a vaccine patent

you've got countries around the world threatening to, as there is an ongoing international crisis, just take it anyway. getting money after that may as well be like getting blood from a stone

you've been given government funding for development of this anyway, so the cost of that (often the most expensive part!) is highly subsidized

there may be complex legal issues of how much you own of the damn thing anyway

you're already riding a wave of good press for making the vaccine

why not double down and say... "we're making the patent free!!!!"

it is potentially the best investment in PR you could ever fucking make. your company would wear that halo for years if not DECADES after that. the general public will go "oh, that company! the heroes that made the vaccine free so anyone could make it around the world!". plus you will be using it now as leverage especially in those places threatening to just take it. suddenly your company goes from enemy of the state to new savior. it could be a wonderful foothold to expand your business into an entirely new country.

i do not think you could ever run a super bowl ad or pay for enough reps to go around to doctor's offices to ever meet that kind of impact.

and if you ran the numbers, this is probably going to be one of the most effective forms of advertising that anyone could ever come up with.

plus it's not like you will entirely not get any money as things continue. you still have your factories set up ready to make the thing - giving you a crucial lead as opposed to other places that have to scramble to also set up production. in fact, many places might see your company in such a favorable light that they'll buy vaccines from you anyway, because "they've been so generous! it's the least we can do, really, to reward them for being so heroic!"

this is a fuckin no brainer!!!!!!!!

@wigglytuffitout all of what you said, but also self preservation.

If the virus continues to spread and mutate, the worst case scenarios for their businesses will come to pass as well as the butchers bill they will have to live with


@tqft @wigglytuffitout
OTOH if the virus continues to spread and mutate, they can develop (and sell!) new vaccines forever

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