Sanofi vaccine row: a patent betrayal of the common good

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The chief executive of French pharma giant Sanofi sparked outrage this week when he declared that the US would be first in line for a vaccine his group was developing against the Covid-19 virus. In this op-ed article, Martine Orange argues the move by Sanofi reveals the immoral reality of the pharma business which, instead of serving the common good, has embarked on a profit-seeking commercial war over the coronavirus.

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It was another time, and a different world. In 1955, after it was announced that the US virologist Jonas Salk had developed the first safe and effective vaccine against polio, he was interviewed on CBS television, when he was asked “Who owns the patent on this vaccine?” Salk replied: “Well, the people I would say. There is no patent,” adding “Could you patent the sun?”