The University of California Regents are accepting public comment and Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 is asking them to sign the Open COVID Pledge. We’ve been in talks with the school, so this could be a turning point.
Dr. Michael Drake,
My name is Steve Lambert, I am a University of California alumnus, Associate Professor at State University of New York, and work in public health.
As you know, the UC system receives millions in public funding through grants from institutions like the National Institutes of Health (congratulations!).
But with public support at a public university comes a moral obligation to make sure these discoveries actually benefit the public. History has shown us that when it comes to life-saving drugs, patents and monopoly licenses with pharmaceutical corporations become serious obstacles to access. Look at the HIV/AIDS crisis, the cost of the Epi-Pen or insulin, or Hepatitis-C treatments like Sofosbuvir.
Those who profit put forward the myth that monopolies are required for innovation – without a profit motive drugs won’t move through the regulatory process and get to market. But exclusive licenses don’t ensure development – research on Coronavirus sat largely ignored for years because it was not seen as profitable without a crisis. We must follow the example set by Jonas Salk who freely shared his Polio vaccine and saved millions of children: let innovation be driven by healthcare need, not shareholder’s desires.
The World Health Organization, global leaders, UN AIDS, OxFam, and a group of Nobel laureates are calling for for “vaccines, treatments and tests be patent-free, mass produced, distributed fairly and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.” (https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/world-leaders-unite-call-peoples-vaccine-against-covid-19)
Please don’t proceed the same way you did a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. We are in a vastly different situation which requires UC to change the way it shares research. As I write this there are over 16 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 649,662 deaths. Make a meaningful commitment now. Sign the Open COVID Pledge.
Professor Steve Lambert