Skip to main content

How Bill Gates impeded global access to Covid vaccines

Through his hallowed foundation, the world’s de facto public health czar has been a stalwart defender of monopoly medicine. 

by Alexander Zaitchik

Part 6 - Gates has been tacitly and explicitly defending the legitimacy of knowledge monopolies since his first Gerald Ford–era missives against open-source software hobbyists

This winter, while Gates assured the world that intellectual property was a red herring, a bloc of developing countries at the WTO explained the need for a waiver on certain intellectual property provisions by pointing to the “rather large gap [that] exists between what COVAX or ACT-A can deliver and what is required in developing and least developed countries.

The forceful statement continued:

    The model of donation and philanthropic expediency cannot solve the fundamental disconnect between the monopolistic model it underwrites and the very real desire of developing and least developed countries to produce for themselves.… The artificial shortage of vaccines is primarily caused by the inappropriate use of intellectual property rights.

Another statement by a different bloc of countries added, “COVID19 reveals the deep structural inequality in access to medicines globally, and a root cause is IP that sustains and dominates industry’s interests at the cost of lives.” 

Gates is certain he knows better. But his failure to anticipate a crisis of supply, and his refusal to engage those who predicted it, have complicated the carefully maintained image of an all-knowing, saintly mega-philanthropist. 
 
COVAX presents a high-stakes demonstration of Gates’s deepest ideological commitments, not just to intellectual property rights but also to the conflation of these rights with an imaginary free market in pharmaceuticals—an industry dominated by companies whose power derives from politically constructed and politically imposed monopolies. Gates has been tacitly and explicitly defending the legitimacy of knowledge monopolies since his first Gerald Ford–era missives against open-source software hobbyists.

He was on the side of these monopolies during the miserable depths of the 1990s African AIDS crisis. He’s still there today, defending the status quo and running effective interference for those profiting by the billions from their control of Covid-19 vaccines. 

His latest move is to institutionalize the ACT-Accelerator as the central organizing institution in future pandemics. The shortages have made this effort a little awkward, however, and Gates is now forced to reckon with the question of technology transfer. This is an aspect of the equitable access debate that doesn’t concern intellectual property as commonly perceived—as a simple matter of patents and licenses—but access to the components and technical knowledge related to practical manufacture, including biological material and other areas otherwise protected under the category of intellectual property known as trade secrets. 
 
The global south and civil society groups have been calling for tech transfer for months—either mandatory tech transfer that could have been written into contracts or through a voluntary mechanism associated with C-TAP—but Gates has predictably arrived on the scene with a more familiar plan in hand.

In early March, senior Gates staff joined pharma executives for a “Global C19 Vaccine Supply Chain and Manufacturing Summit” convened by Chatham House in London. The main agenda item: plans for a new arm within the ACT-Accelerator, the Covid Vaccine Capacity Connector, that seeks to address the tech-transfer question within the usual frame of monopoly rights and bilateral licensing. 

The tech transfer debate is being decisively seized and shaped by those who want to set the terms and conditions under which knowledge can be transferred,” writes Priti Patnaik in her Geneva Health Files newsletter. A Gates-directed tech-transfer mechanism without meaningful input from WHO members states, she writes, would be a “body blow” to C-TAP and similar future initiatives that promote open licensing and knowledge sharing to maximize production and access. 

There are signs of overdue scrutiny of Gates’s role in public health and lifelong commitment to exclusive intellectual property rights. But so far these are blips. More common is the deference on display in a March 21 New York Times article about the U.S. government’s role in developing the mRNA vaccines now under the monopoly control of Moderna and Pfizer. When the piece turned to Gates’s inevitable cameo, the Times reporter was hovering right over the target—and somehow managed to miss wide by a mile. Instead of probing Gates’s central role in preserving this paradigm, the paper linked to gentle boilerplate about pricing and access found on the Gates Foundation website. In response to a request for comment, a Gates Foundation spokesperson pointed me to a piece by its CEO, Mark Suzman, arguing that “IP fundamentally underpins innovation, including the work that has helped create vaccines so quickly.

Any change in media coverage of Gates’s second career may produce a delayed echo within the world he has come to dominate. Here Gates not only controls the narratives, he controls most of the payroll. This may sound conspiratorial or overblown to outsiders but not to campaigners who have witnessed Gates’s ability to shift gravity on major issues. 

If you said to an ordinary person, ‘We’re in a pandemic. Let’s figure out everyone who can make vaccines and give them everything they need to get online as fast as possible,’ it would be a no-brainer,” says James Love. “But Gates won’t go there. Neither will the people dependent on his funding. He has immense power. He can get you fired from a U.N. job. He knows that if you want to work in global public health, you’d better not make an enemy of the Gates Foundation by questioning its positions on I.P. and monopolies. And there are a lot of advantages to being on his team. It’s a sweet, comfortable ride for a lot of people.

***

Source, links:


[1][2][3][4][5]

Related:

 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Τραγωδία στο Μάτι και δεξιό παρακράτος: νέα στοιχεία για πιθανή επιχείρηση προβοκάτσιας

globinfo freexchange     Όπως είχαμε επισημάνει ήδη από τον Σεπτέμβριο του 19, η εγχώρια μιντιακή χούντα και οι καθεστωτικές μαριονέτες της Μητσοτακικής δεξιάς είχαν επιλέξει τελικά να ρίξουν το μεγαλύτερο βάρος της αντι-ΣΥΡΙΖΑ προπαγάνδας σε δύο βασικούς πυλώνες: στη συμφωνία των Πρεσπών και στην τραγωδία στο Μάτι.    Όσο περνούσε ο καιρός και αφού κατακάθισε η σκόνη της μιντιακής προπαγάνδας, όλα έδειχναν ότι το σενάριο μιας πιθανής προβοκάτσιας στην υπόθεση "Μάτι" ενορχηστρωμένης από το δεξιό παρακράτος (όσο και αν αυτό φάνταζε εξωφρενικό), δεν θα μπορούσε να αποκλειστεί.   Τα πρώτα ισχυρά σημάδια για την πιθανότητα ενός τέτοιου σεναρίου τα έδωσε το ίδιο το καθεστώς Μητσοτάκη με την επιβράβευση των υπεύθυνων αξιωματικών για τη διαχείριση της φωτιάς στο Μάτι, οι οποίοι πήραν προαγωγή! Κάτι φυσικά που απέκρυψαν επιμελώς όλα τα συστημικά κανάλια της μιντιακής χούντας (στην οποία ανήκει ασφαλώς και η Μητσοτακική ΥΕΝΕΔ) που στηρίζει σύσσωμη το καθεστώς. Πρόσφατα, ήρθαν και νέα

Day 821: Julian Assange still in prison

failed evolution   World's number one political prisoner, Julian Assange, still in high security prison for exposing horrendous war crimes carried out by the US imperialists and their allies.      

The notorious London spy school churning out many of the world’s top journalists

The fact that the very department that trains high state officials and agents of secretive three letter agencies is also the place that produces many of the journalists we rely on to stand up to those officials and keep them in check is seriously problematic.   by Alan Macleod   Part 5 - The Bellingcat Boys While the journalists cataloged above are not spooks, some other Department of War Studies figures working in journalism could possibly be described as such, particularly those around the influential and increasingly notorious investigative website Bellingcat . Cameron Colquhoun, for instance, spent almost a decade at GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, where he was a senior analyst running cyber and counter-terrorism operations. He holds qualifications from both King’s College London and the State Department. This background is not disclosed in his Bellingcat profile, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “ conduct[s] ethical in

US govt, celebrities, bots fuel astroturfed Cuba protests to push regime change

Moderate Rebels   Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton briefly discuss how the US government and corporate media are heavily amplifying small protests in Cuba to destabilize the country. While Washington suffocates the Cuban people with an illegal, 60-year blockade that the entire world just voted against at the UN, C-list celebrities are promoting #SOSCuba propaganda, and thousands of bots are spreading fake news on social media.  

The death of neoliberalism

New Economic Thinking     Market fetishists may not know it yet, but it's over. Suresh Naidu breaks down neoliberalism, and why it can no longer support itself.  

The bourgeoisie did not respect its heavy heritage

232 years later, regression towards the new Feudalism  by system failure It was 14th July of 1789 when the representatives of the bourgeoisie in France promised a different world. Indeed, authoritarianism and depression by Monarchy and Feudalism brought naturally a desire for a more equitable society. The triplet "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" was not a simple slogan reproduced to become a cliche, but represented the pure willing of the majority for a big change. 128 years later, another revolution, in Russia this time, promised to impose the implementation of those things declared in 1789, as the proletariat was building a class consciousness and the bourgeoisie had already abandoned its initial declarations. Several decades since then, two ostensibly different worlds were fighting against each other. On the one hand, the Soviet Communism that imposed a direct state authoritarianism and a monstrous bureaucracy, on the other, the indirect authoritarianism by the Western stat

Reddit captured by national security state

Redacted Tonight   Lee Camp looks into the fall of Reddit. The website was originally a bastion of free speech where antiestablishment viewpoints and news could be amplified over the corporate propaganda that people in the modern west are used to. The ruling class wouldn't allow that to stand. It's a sad story that has brought us to this point where the front page of Reddit acts as a repository for corporate and State Department propaganda. 

THE ANGRY ARAB: How the US Controls Lebanon

The “war on terror” is even more convenient for Washington’s dreams of hegemony and domination than the previous war on communism, writes As`ad AbuKhalil.    by As`ad AbuKhalil   Part 2 - A War Without Limits   The American “war on terrorism” is even more convenient for U.S. dreams of hegemony and domination than the previous war on communism.  Unlike the latter, the “war on terrorism” knows no end and has no limits.  It is a war with no timetable or specific achievable goals, and that is how the U.S. likes it. The U.S. can’t declare a completion of its war on terrorism, just as states can’t declare an end to wars on crime or poverty. Those are virtual and theoretical wars, but with the U.S. this has become a war industry: essential for world domination.  U.S. troops are now present in most Arab countries. Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and all Gulf countries host a large presence of U.S. troops. In Lebanon, while the Western media regurgitate Israeli and S

OPCW chief misleads UN with new lies, excuses on Syria cover-up

The Grayzone Facing growing outcry, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias went before the United Nations Security Council and told new falsehoods about his organization’s Syria cover-up scandal — along with more disingenuous excuses to avoid addressing it. Scholar and researcher Piers Robinson joins Aaron Maté to debunk Arias' latest evasions and distortions.  

The notorious London spy school churning out many of the world’s top journalists

The fact that the very department that trains high state officials and agents of secretive three letter agencies is also the place that produces many of the journalists we rely on to stand up to those officials and keep them in check is seriously problematic.   by Alan Macleod   Part 3 - The British invasion Unsurprisingly for a university based in London, the primary journalistic destination for Department of War Studies graduates is the United Kingdom. Indeed, the BBC, the country’s powerful state broadcaster, is full of War Studies alumni. Arif Ansari, head of news at the BBC Asian Network, completed a masters analyzing the Syrian Civil War in 2017 and was soon selected for a leadership development scheme, placing him in charge of a team of 25 journalists who curate news primarily geared toward the substantial Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in Great Britain. Many BBC employees begin studying at King’s years after their careers have already taken off, and balance their pr