There’s an old saying that goes like this, “Don’t kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.” The White House has forgotten that sage saying at a most critical time.
The world has been reeling from a coronavirus pandemic for the last year, but there is now light at the end of this tunnel through the widespread availability of multiple vaccines. These vaccines were developed in record-breaking time by the pharmaceutical industry with the help of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. Nearly every expert in the field, including the much-heralded Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it would take years to produce a new vaccine, but it actually was available in less than a year.
New Covid-19 cases are declining rapidly in this country and most parts of the world, with the notable exceptions of India and South Africa. India is well-known for its large pharmaceutical industry, but primarily they manufacture generic medications that were developed in other countries. Now they want the World Trade Organization (WTO) to grant them the right to the intellectual property (IP) of other pharmaceutical companies who developed the Covid-19 vaccines. They are using the crisis of this pandemic in their country to overcome barriers to their own pharmaceutical industry in order to generate profits in their country.
This request to the WTO would be laughable except the Biden administration has decided to endorse this plan. Kimberley Strassel, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, says, “The move is in keeping with the administration’s refusal to acknowledge the history of the vaccine achievement. Team Biden continues its willful disregard of Operation Warp Speed, in part because it is too petty to give credit to any person, company or initiative connected to the Trump administration. It has instead pushed the claim that the Biden administration alone deserves credit for the vaccine rollout.
This rewriting of reality is becoming routine. The administration declares there is “no crisis” at the border, as illegal crossings surge. It says Georgia’s’ election-law update is “Jim Crow”, although the state provides more voting opportunities than others. It redefines entitlement spending as “infrastructure.” The press only encourages these fictions, making it easier for the administration to ignore biotech’s lead role in beating the pandemic and to hand over its work to the world.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board agrees. They say, “We’ve already criticized President Biden’s bewildering decision Wednesday to endorse a patent waiver for Covid vaccines and therapies. But upon more reflection this may be the single worst presidential economic decision since Nixon’s wage and price controls.”
This decision, like most from this White House, comes from the progressive left of the Democratic Party. Progressive leaders Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have been calling for patent waivers since last year and have amped up the pressure on Joe Biden. Even Fauci opposes the idea and stated, “there are other ways to ramp up vaccine production around the world.”
Here are some of those ways, as advocated by the WSJ editorial board:
- Negotiate bilateral vaccine agreements and export excess U.S. supply
- Government support of vaccine producers to produce more for export
These ideas would increase world supply, increase jobs for Americans, and protect the IP of those companies who invested money for years in R&D to produce these vaccines. It would result in sufficient vaccines for the world without removing the incentives for producing new drugs that pharmaceutical manufacturers must have to be successful. Ignoring these incentives will sabotage new vaccine development the next time a pandemic strikes.
Fortunately, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel understands this situation better than the Biden administration. She opposes the waiver of IP and says, “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and it must remain so in the future.” Her words could become the rallying cry for pharmaceutical companies to consider moving to Germany, instead of the United States.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson recently said he would stop referring to this current administration as “the Biden administration” since it appeared others were actually in charge. He said he would choose to simply say, “this White House, or the Harris administration, or the current administration.” Based on this latest move, it would seem best to refer to this as “the Sanders administration.”