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Economist Dean Baker on how economic system could screw many in the world out of COVID-19 vaccine

2 min read

The worldwide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines exposes the immorality of our current economic system. Dr. Dean Baker sheds important light.

Dr. Dean Baker exposes a sad reality about our economic system.

See full episodes here.

Recently there was a headline at Common Dreams that drew my ire. It is titled “Pfizer Helped Create the Global Patent Rules. Now It’s Using Them to Undercut Access to the Covid Vaccine.” The article pointed out that the rich western countries did not want to suspend patent to allow the wide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. After reading the following two paragraphs it was clear I needed to talk to Dr. Dean Baker.

Dean Bak­er, econ­o­mist and co-founder of the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic and Pol­i­cy Research (CEPR), a left-lean­ing think tank, tells In These Times, ​“TRIPS required devel­op­ing coun­tries, and coun­tries around the world, to adopt a U.S.-type patent and copy­right rule. Pre­vi­ous­ly, both had been out­side trade agree­ments, so coun­tries could have what­ev­er rules they want. India already had a well-devel­oped phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try by the 1990s. Pre-TRIPS, India did­n’t allow drug com­pa­nies to patent drugs. They could patent process­es, but not drugs.”

TRIPS brought prof­its to phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies and ​“raised phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal costs in the U.S. and fur­ther restrict­ed the avail­abil­i­ty of life­sav­ing drugs in WTO devel­op­ing coun­tries,” accord­ing to cor­po­rate watch­dog group Pub­lic Cit­i­zen. This dynam­ic played out ruth­less­ly dur­ing the AIDS cri­sis, which was in full swing as the WTO was cre­at­ed. ​“It took the South African gov­ern­ment almost a decade to break the monop­o­lies held by for­eign drug com­pa­nies that kept the coun­try hostage, and kept peo­ple there dying,” wrote Achal Prab­ha­la, Arjun Jayadev and Dean Bak­er in a recent piece in the New York Times.

Dr. Baker did not disappoint as he made everything much clearer. Listen to the entire enlightening interview.

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