Collective intelligence, not market competition, will deliver the best Covid-19 vaccine

Els Torreele at StatNews: “…Imagine mobilizing the world’s brightest and most creative minds — from biotech and pharmaceutical industries, universities, government agencies, and more — to work together using all available knowledge, innovation, and infrastructure to develop an effective vaccine against Covid-19. A true “people’s vaccine” that would be made freely available to all people in all countries. That’s what an open letter by more than 140 world leaders and experts calls for.

Unfortunately, that is not how the race for a Covid-19 vaccine is being run. The rules of that game are oblivious to the goal of maximizing global health outcomes and access.

Despite a pipeline of more than 100 vaccine candidates reflecting massive public and private efforts, there exists no public-health-focused way to design or prioritize the development of the most promising candidates. Instead, the world is adopting a laissez-faire approach and letting individual groups and companies compete for marketing authorization, each with their proprietary vaccine candidate, and assume that the winner of that race will be the best vaccine to tackle the pandemic.

Science thrives, and technological progress is made, when knowledge is exchanged and shared freely, generating collective intelligence by building on the successes and failures of others in real time instead of through secretive competition. Regrettably, market logic has come to overtake medicinal product innovation, including the unproven premise that competition is an efficient way to advance science and deliver the best solutions for public health….(More)”.